International players back to their roots for ANZ Premiership

By Ruth Smith

The ANZ Premiership will begin this week, and as international players come off the compulsory two-week stand down to re-join their home teams, talks of the Netball New Zealand review is still a hot topic.

Former Silver Ferns' defender, Anna Harrison is welcoming all international players back into the ANZ Premiership.

"They've come back looking forward to coming back into our environment.  We've missed them," says Northern Mystic Captain, Anna Harrison.

Mystics player Bailey Mes is the only Silver Fern returning this week after the team's poor Commonwealth Games performance, which is still under Netball New Zealand review.

"It's got a lot of people talking about netball and I guess it can be considered in a fragile place,” says Harrison.

Silver Ferns coach, Janine Southby is under immense pressure to perform.

Kiri Wills is well aware of the expectation placed upon professional teams, including her role with the Stars.

"Coaching is a pretty fickle industry to be involved in.  We take our responsibilities really seriously and I would expect that if the Stars don't perform then I will be reviewed and the position will be reviewed as well,” says Wills.

A Commonwealth Games gold medal still found its way into the Stars camp, with Stars international import, England's Ama Agbeze.

"Ama snuck into training one day to show her medal when all the internationals were on stand-down. The girls were so excited to see her and happy for her," Wills says.

While Wills agrees that the review is important, she encourages Netball New Zealand to look at the big picture.

"I hope that the review has a much wider scope than just the coaching staff.  There's succession planning.  There's competition. There's what's happening in the community level.  It can't just be isolated to one person," she reflects.

The ANZ Premiership kicks off on the 6th of May.  The first game will be between the Northern Mystic and the Southern Steel.