Sport Netball ‘Smart’ Super Netball changes to deal with coronavirus realities
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‘Smart’ Super Netball changes to deal with coronavirus realities

Giants Netball captain Jo Harten and NSW Swifts captain Maddy Proud ahead of the new season. Photo: AAP
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Local and international stars have applauded the late rule changes to the Super Netball competition starting on the weekend, saying they are smart and will reduce the workload on players.

Changes include suspending the bonus point system for the season and the planned introduction of extra time for drawn games will be postponed until the 2021 campaign.

The number of players permitted in each match will be raised from 10 to 12.

Injury prevention and player welfare are the major reasons for the decisions after widespread consultation and discussion with medical experts, high-performance managers, players and clubs.

These changes will be supported by the Suncorp Super Netball injury surveillance manager, a new role that will provide up-to-the-minute data to senior medical, high performance and administrative staff at league and club level throughout the season.

SSN CEO Chris Symington said the initiatives were designed to protect player health and welfare.

Several team captains welcomed the changes, which they believe will help to reduce the risks of injuries and burnout.

“No bonus points, and no extra time is definitely in the best interests of the of the players,” Fever captain and Diamonds’ goalkeeper Courtney Bruce told AAP.

Lightning skipper and Silver Ferns mid-court superstar Laura Langman said the latest changes were “part and parcel of the season that’s going to be COVID related”.

We’re always adapting as we go. I think it makes sense what they’ve done.’’

Swifts captain and midcourter Maddy Proud said the changes were needed, describing them as smart and sensible

“Even (scrapping) the bonus points means coaches are going to have a lot more freedom to play off their bench and to rotate their players rather than have such a a focus on those quarter by quarter results,” Proud said.

Giants’ leader and England shooter Jo Harten said it was a relief the bonus point system had been removed for this year.

“That helps with player load so you don’t have to have potentially your best seven on court for the whole 60 minutes,” Harten said.

“I think that works well with our rolling subs scenario because we’re going to be playing up to three games a week through our condensed season, and I think player welfare has been considered by the league, which is nice to see.”

Collingwood captain and Diamonds’ mid-courter Madi Browne said extending the list to 12 meant all of the players the Magpies had taken to Queensland now had a chance to get court time.

The campaign starts on Saturday when Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning play at the Nissan Arena in Brisbane.

Teams from across the country will play Rounds 1 to 6 in Queensland and NSW, before a second phase, which will be announced in coming weeks.

-AAP