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A condensed schedule for the ANZ Premiership next year features the return of doubleheader weekends and a new venue.
The Southern Steel will play a full competition game in Queenstown for the first time.
While the Steel and its predecessors, the Sting and the Otago Rebels, have played pre-season games there, the clash between the Steel and the Mystics on April 17 will be the first full game for the Queenstown Events Centre.
It is a tasty clash, too — the Mystics are the defending champions.
The ANZ Premiership schedule, released yesterday, has a short and sharp look to it.
There are just 12 rounds, starting on March 13 and ending on May 28, to be followed by a finals series.
Doubleheader rounds are necessary to get the competition finished earlier so elite players can prepare for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“We are really excited to announce something a little bit different for 2022 with the doubleheader weekends which is going to provide a feast of netball for fans throughout New Zealand,” Netball New Zealand head of events Emma Fowlie said.
“This schedule allows us to play a full three rounds over 12 weeks which is very important in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games.”
The Steel’s first game is against the Tactix at Christchurch Arena on March 13.
Its first home game is at Stadium Southland on March 21.
The Steel’s doubleheader weekends are on April 2 (Mystics away) and 4 (Stars away), April 9 (Magic away) and 11 (Pulse away), and May 21 (Pulse at home) and 22 (Magic at home).
Dunedin’s Edgar Centre again gets two games and Stadium Southland five.
Five of the Steel’s seven opening games are on the road, but it ends the campaign with five home games out of six, including three straight at its Invercargill fortress, which could be handy if there is a race for the finals.