Diamonds great Kim Green believes New Zealand’s best netballers should be allowed to play in Australia’s domestic competition in a bid to improve the Silver Ferns’ depth.
Australia take on New Zealand in the Constellation Cup, with the four-match series beginning in Melbourne on Thursday night.
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It’s the first time the fierce rivals will have played since last year’s Trans Tasman series after their paths didn’t cross at the Netball World Cup and the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
The Diamonds are favoured to win the series after dominating last international netball cycle, winning the World Cup, Quad Series, Commonwealth Games and a series against England.
But the Aussies will be aiming to claim their first outright Constellation Cup victory since 2018 after they won last year’s series on goal aggregate.
The Silver Ferns finished a disappointing fourth at the Netball World Cup and will likely be without star goal shooter Grace Nweke for some of the games as she recovers from a knee injury.
“We’re unsure if she’s going to be able to play the Australian leg but she will be (ready) for New Zealand by the time we get back to Invercargill,” said New Zealand coach Dame Noeline Taurua.
“It might be slim pickings for Australia but we’ll see how we go.”
Stepping in for Nweke will be teenager Amelia Walmsley, who impressed in New Zealand’s recent series win over England in the Taini Jamison Trophy.
“But that’s why I’m so happy with Amelia (Walmsley). She’s got a lot to learn but I think she’s got such promise for us,” Taurua said.
Green believes Nweke’s injury and New Zealand’s recent struggles in international netball highlighted the need for the best Kiwi players to be allowed to ply their trade in Super Netball.
“For me, their depth is not quite there at the moment and that is something they need to work on,” Green said on Fox Netball’s 4th Quarter program.
“You look at Australia, one goes down and the next one comes in.
“I’m saying that with quiet confidence, not cockiness — but that’s exactly what our Super Netball provides.
“It provides this pathway of building really great champions and New Zealand have it at the top level, but what’s next if someone like a Nweke goes down. It’s actually quite scary.”
Since the ANZ championship was disbanded at the end of 2016, all New Zealand players have been required to play in their home domestic league to be eligible for national selection.
Green argued the Silver Ferns are at risk of falling behind on the global stage given players from Jamaica, England and South Africa are competing with Australia’s best in Super Netball.
“For me, I think they need to open up the rules and allow them to come over and play in the Super Netball,” she said.
“I would love to see them over here playing. You have a look at the likes of England and Jamaica, they’ve really started to ramp up and that’s because most of their players are playing in our league.
“They’re playing against that really elite hard netball consistently every week so they’re learning how to build that in-game endurance and mentally, it’s so important to be able to do that.
“Opening up that rule and having that exemption for some players — they do have that, you are allowed to apply for that and generally that’s been to some of the older players in the team like a Laura Langman.
“For mine, it’s about opening up that rule and allowing them to come over. I don’t know what that means for their league over there but certainly for them to be able to continue to be in the mix that may be something they need to put into place.”
The Constellation Cup is taking place against the backdrop of a pay dispute between Netball Australia and the player union that has left players stressed and without club contracts after their Super Netball deals expired.
Australian Diamonds Constellation Cup Squad
Sunday Aryang, Kiera Austin, Courtney Brce, Sophie Dwyer, Sophie Garbin, Paige Hadley, Sarah Klau, Cara Koenen, Kate Moloney, Jamie-Lee Price, Liz Watson, Jo Weston
New Zealand Silver Ferns Squad
Karin Burger, Kate Burley, Ameliaranne Ekenasio, Maddy Gordon, Kate Heffernan, Kelly Jury, Phoenix Karaka, Tiana Metuarau, Grace Nweke, Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, Whitney Souness, Amelia Walmsley, Jane Watson, Maia Wilson
CONSTELLATION CUP GAMES (AEDT)
Thursday Oct 12, 7.30pm: Diamonds v Silver Ferns, John Cain Arena – Melbourne
Sunday Oct 15, 7.30pm: Diamonds v Silver Ferns, Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Thursday Oct 19, 5.30pm: Silver Ferns v Diamonds, ILT Stadium – Invercargill
Monday Oct 23, 2pm: Silver Ferns v Diamonds, Spark Arena – Auckland
HOW TO WATCH
All games will be broadcast on Foxtel on channel 505 or free and live on Kayo Freebies