Jhaniele Fowler and Helen Housby: Australia's Super Netball league returns this weekend

Australia Netball

Super Netball, Australia's premier league for the sport, returns this weekend after several months. The competition will begin with a huge clash, a replay of last year’s Grand Final between winners Melbourne Vixens and West Coast Fever.

With the time difference between Australia and the UK, the opening game will be aired on Saturday, May 1st at 3pm down under - that is 6am on Friday, 30th April for British fans.

This will be the fifth annual Super Netball competition after the league had its inaugural season in 2017.

Following today’s announcement that the Oceania nation will host the 2027 Netball World Cup, GiveMeSport Women breakdowns the division in detail:

A background:

The Super Netball league began in 2017 and consists of eight teams; Adelaide Thunderbirds, Collingwood Magpies, Giants Netball, Melbourne Vixens, New South Wales Swifts, Queensland Firebirds, Sunshine Coast Lightning and West Coast Fever.

There will be 14 league matches, with each team playing seven home and away games. The top four sides after this period will then go into a play-off format, where first and second play each other, and third and four do as well. The winner of the first game will progress to the Grand Final, while the loser will compete in a preliminary final against the winner of third v fourth. The Grand Final will then consist of the original winner of first v second and the victor of the preliminary final.

Unlike the Superleague in England, the Super Netball awards four points for a win and two for a draw, while no points are given for a loss.

Last year saw the introduction of the ‘Super Goal.’ This is where in the last five minutes of a quarter, the attackers on each side can be awarded two goals instead of one if they score in the marked 1.9 meter radius.

Most importantly, fans will be allowed to attend all games!

Past Grand Final winners:

There have been three different Grand Final winners in the competition’s history, with Lightning winning back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, Swifts winning the 2019 final and Vixens winning last year’s competition.

Previous Players of The Year:

Over the past four seasons there has only been two winners of the award. This is due to the dominant performances of Jamaican international Jhaniele Fowler, who was voted the Player of The Year in 2018, 2019 and 2020. The first winner of the award was England Roses player Geva Mentor.

Unlike the ‘senior’ POTY award, there has been a different recipient of the Young Star Award every campaign.

The winner of the YSA has to be under the age of 23 before the season begins, with four Australians scooping it thus far. The first was Liz Watson. She was followed by Jess Anstiss in 2018, then Amy Parmenter the following year and Maisie Nankivell in 2020.

Past Coaches of The Year:

Despite not reaching the Grand Final in 2017, Vixens’ head coach Simone McKinnis was awarded the Coach of The Year. She scooped the award again last year after guiding her team to their first title last year.

The following year Stacey Marinkovich won the award after guiding Fever to the Grand Final in 2018 - they narrowly lost the match 62-59.

In 2019, Swifts’ head coach Briony Akle was recognised as the best coach that season. Her team won the Grand Final convincingly, with a 64-47 victory.

League attraction:

Australia's top netball division has lured some big names down under with the likes of England internationals Helen Housby and Nat Haythornthwaite playing for Swifts, while Jamaica’s Shamera Sterling represents Thunderbirds and South Africa’s Phumza Maweni plays for Lightning. These are just a few names from other nations to represent a Super Netball club.

Helen Housby

Other interesting information:

A salary cap was introduced to the league in 2019, in which players have to earn a minimum of 30,000 Australian Dollars per year - this is roughly £16,820. However, the average wage for a netballer in the league is $67,000 (£37,573.90). This made Super Netball the highest paying competition for women’s athletes.

Fever broke the cap rules in 2018 and 2019, as a result they will begin this season with minus 12 points.

Australia are currently ranked the number one netball team in the world, with New Zealand in second and England in third.

Fever head coach Stacey Marinkovich also holds the same role with the national team , a job she started last year.

Asics makes all eight teams’ playing and training wear and Gilbert are the match ball providers.

The 2021 Grand Final will be played on August 29th.

Early wake ups or all-nighters might be needed if you want to watch Australia's top netball league this campaign. One thing is for sure, the competition will be a fun watch!

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