Why there will be more on the line for Super Netball players this season

Melbourne Vixens captain Liz Watson tips the 2023 Super Netball season will be fiercely competitive as players look to prove themselves for World Cup selection.

Melbourne Vixens captain Liz Watson expects a tight season of Super Netball as players vie for national team selection in the upcoming World Cup.

The Super Netball season begins on March 18, with the World Cup in Cape Town starting late July.

Representatives from all eight Super Netball clubs at a launch in Melbourne on Tuesday. Credit:Daniel Pockett, Getty Images

“We need to perform in our season because that’s, I guess, our last selection process in a way,” said Watson, who is also the Diamonds’ captain.

“And there’s no real time together as a Diamond squad until we’re there, until the team is selected. So [players will be] using these games as your selection really.”

Watson said the Quad Series earlier this year set them up for the World Cup but with the selection hinging off the upcoming season, she expects tough contests.

She added that having a teammate selected is a point of pride for the club.

“We get so excited when someone [from the] team is selected. And I know that Simone [McKinnis], our coach, really prides herself on getting her athletes to be the best Vixens, but then go on to be Diamonds as well,” said Watson.

“But I’ve always said you need to perform well at your club. That’s the only way you’re going to get through at the Diamonds level.

“So that is a focus of mine and Stacey [Marinkovich], Diamonds coach, has said that as well: ‘You’re in your clubs now. I’m leaving you with them, go well, perform well, and then you’ll set yourself up for a great year’.”

Liz Watson of the Vixens looks to pass the ball against the West Coast Fever.Credit:Getty Images

The Vixens were last year’s runaway premiers but fell short to the West Coast Fever in the grand final by 11-points.

They will be looking to be the first side to lose a grand final and then make it back there the following year.

Another team set to do well is the Collingwood Magpies, whose captain, Geva Mentor said it’s exciting to be in a side that will hopefully make a finals push in a World Cup year.

“I really want to have a good one with the Collingwood Magpies. We’ve been sort of touching finals the last few seasons, so I think for us to be able to kind of really cement ourselves within that sort of top four position means that all focus needs to be there,” said Mentor.

“And the exciting thing is you get to see some of your teammates, some of the Roses girls [England national team] are playing in the league, obviously all the Diamonds, and then there’s a few Jamaicans and a few African nations. So, that’s what makes it exciting building into a World Cup year, but I think the main focus is SSN [Suncorp Super Netball] at the moment.”

Geva Mentor, centre, with teammates earlier this month. Credit:Morgan Hancock, Getty Images

At the end of the 2023 season, the current collective player agreement expires and the Australian Netball Players’ Association and Netball Australia are in early negotiations over its replacement.

The union is pursuing a “partnership” model, which it hopes could increase salaries, however says Netball Australia has signalled it does not intend to raise Super Netball player wages as part of a new agreement following losses of more than $7 million in the past two years.

Watson said players are consulted when needed on the negotiations but choose to focus their attention on the season.

“To be honest, when you are with your club, and you’re performing, that’s what you need to do,” said Watson.

“It’s sort of there, and we know that the players’ association and Netball Australia are working through it…[But] they can sort of do it, and we can just perform and, as athletes, that’s what you want. Because sometimes it happens in the season, or at not ideal times, and you want to focus on playing.”

The Super Netball season this year will give players the best chance to prove themselves for World Cup selection. Credit:Daniel Pockett, Getty Images

Similarly, Mentor said players are aware of the talks happening but put that aside in their minds when the season starts, to focus on playing well.

“We’re aware of that [CBA talks] and I think the great thing with our sport is that we’ve got the players’ association and Kath Harbs [Kathryna Harby-Williams, CEO of the Australian Netball Players’ Association] has been a fantastic voice for us and representing all us players,” said Mentor.

“So, there’s obviously a lot of talk around that during pre-season but once the season kicks in, the focus is shifted onto our players’ association, so we can actually focus on what we’re good at, and that’s playing netball.”

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