Frew concerned for players in downsized league

Changes to the ANZ Premiership format for 2025 have raised concerns about stability for players and their salaries.

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) announced this week the ANZ Premiership would be cut from three rounds to two next season and agreed to a one-year extension to their broadcast deal with Sky TV. Their deal with TVNZ for free-to-air Saturday games was also extended for next year.

Former Southern Steel captain Wendy Frew said it was great to still have broadcasting deals on the table, but it was disappointing it resulted in the ANZ Premiership being cut back.

"For the players’ situations, it’ll be a little bit disappointing", Frew said.

"It’s the No1 comp in New Zealand.

"When it first came out, it felt like it was quite a long comp having to play the teams three times, but then it really brings coaches into it, and game plans, and different tactics when you play those teams."

Due to the downsizing, there was an assumption players would be taking a pay cut with less revenue coming in.

"That is a little bit concerning in terms of the pay cheque for these girls, which I guess is all up in the air."

Despite being semi-professional athletes, most netballers still had careers outside the sport to support them.

But that cut into their time to do the extras needed in elite sport, such as rest days, pool sessions and analysing their opposition.

"You do feel for these girls.

"I know some of the Steel girls are working 20-25 hours a week on top of [netball], which is a big demand.

"It’s probably, at times, decreased their performance, because they’re not having the time to do those little things to make sure when they take the court they’re 100% ready, mentally, physically."

Internationally, it will be interesting to see if the changes impact the Silver Ferns over the next few years.

It could also play in favour of the Silver Ferns, who usually rushed from the domestic season into international camps, and with fewer domestic games, there could be more opportunities for high performance environments earlier, she said.

Rumours have swirled for the past few season about New Zealand re-joining Australia’s domestic league in some capacity and Frew backed the premise.

It was important for those who did not get international exposure to develop their game against a different style, she said.

"Back in the day when I played against the Aussies, I loved it.

"You really knew how good you were when you played some of those [players].

"Somehow they need to look at getting those players who aren’t going to New Zealand As [or the] Silver Ferns some more court time."