Suncorp Super Netball: 2020 season talking points
Season gets underway on Saturday with Queensland Firebirds vs Sunshine Coast Lightning; first six rounds of fixtures announced
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 29/07/20 7:59am
Ahead of the 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season commencing on Saturday, over two months after its original start date, we take a look at some of the key talking points.
At the end of March, the 2020 season was postponed due to COVID-19 and because of the ongoing situation in some parts of Australia, it has now been relocated to Queensland.
The league has taken the decision to announce the first six rounds and it's expected that the next phase of fixtures will be confirmed in mid-August.
So before any of the teams take to court, let's discuss some of the most pertinent topics...
Round One Fixtures
|August 1||Queensland Firebirds vs Sunshine Coast Lightning||Nissan Arena|
|August 1||GIANTS Netball vs West Coast Fever||Ken Rosewall Arena|
|August 2||NSW Swifts vs Adelaide Thunderbirds||Ken Rosewall Arena|
|August 2||Melbourne Vixens vs Collingwood Magpies||Nissan Arena|
The Super Shot
There's only one place to start and that's with the league's new rule; a rule that's divided netball's fans, players and coaches across the world.
The Super Shot, the opportunity to score two goals by shooting from a 1.9m designated zone within the circle in the last five minutes of a quarter, was announced six weeks ago and adds a completely new dynamic to Super Netball's matches.
When a sport or league takes a decision to evolve in some way, it often ruffles feathers and produces strong opinions on both sides of the fence - remember fans' early views about T20 cricket?
After being told about the Super Shot, some Suncorp Super Netball players said that it's "not a problem" - the view of Sam Wallace at the NSW Swifts. On the flip side others, like Jo Weston of the Melbourne Vixens, have shared that it's "the last thing" teams needed after all that's happened so far this year.
Other considerations for 2020 Suncorp Super Netball season
|Suspending the bonus point system for the 2020 season||Designed to insure that playing load is distributed more widely across each team’s group of athletes. Aims to reduce the incentive to keep certain players on the court longer in pursuit of winning a quarter.|
|Postponing the extra time rule until the 2021 season||In line with advice on player load, potential injury and the likely impact of extra time periods on athletes who have had reduced or interrupted pre-seasons.|
|Teams will now be allowed to bring 10 full squad members and two additional players who may be training partners or other players, subject to several requirements, into every match.||The additional two players can change between matches according to club needs.|
Come Round One, the final five minutes of every quarter will be scrutinised to the nth degree and without a doubt, will provide some of the major talking points of the weekend.
That may well be the case for the duration of the season and, as Dan Ryan shared with Sky Sports, only once the season has been completed will we know whether the Super Shot enhances or detracts from the Super Netball's product.
Ryan: Views on Super Shot must wait
Dan Ryan believes everyone involved in netball needs to see the new Super Shot rule in practice before deciding one way or the other about it.
The post-Taurua era
For the Sunshine Coast Lightning, this season marks their first without having the two-time title-winning genius, Dame Noeline Taurua, at the helm as their head coach.
Despite losing Taurua's considerable netball nous, the franchise have maintained a great level of consistency with Kylee Byrne, Taurua's previous assistant, stepping into her shoes.
Under Byrne, the world-class Laura Langman will remain as their captain and Karla Pretorius will again takes on the role of vice-captain.
FULL TIME: Lightning 59 defeat QLD Mens 48— Sunshine Coast Lightning (@sc_lightning) July 26, 2020
Strong physical contest between the two sides but Lightning come away with a win. QLD Mens proved to be a strong opposition in our last practice match before the season start. Bring on @FirebirdsQld!
In the netballing world, it's an undisputed opinion that Taurua is one of the best in the business, so losing her from the day-to-day goings on will take something away from Lightning.
However, with a squad that includes Langman, Pretorius, Peace Proscovia and Phumza Maweni, you anticipate that they should enjoy a fairly seamless transition into the post-Taurua era and that they'll be there or thereabouts at the top of the ladder.
COVID-19 and its impact
You cannot look ahead to this new season without discussing the circumstances surrounding its postponement.
Across the globe, COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on all aspects of people's lives. Some athletes in the league may have had family members or friends affected, some have been miles away from their families during lockdown and in the case of Layla Guscoth, she experienced it on the frontline at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
From a training perspective, all had to adapt to training at home and many will have experienced the longest period away from a netball court since they were children.
The time away from court is likely to have made for some 'interesting' starts to training sessions, however with such a wealth of netball behind them, all teams should still be able to hit the ground running come August 1.
Queensland and quarantine
The Melbourne Vixens and Collingwood Magpies face each other in the first round and both will be coming off the back of a 14-day quarantine period.
The teams have been able to continue training during that time, but will have had to manage their downtime being a little quieter than usual. In what has already been an unpreceded period and pre-season, this has added another hurdle for both to jump over.
The hope is that because their first hit-out is against each other, it will allow both to 'catch up' with their fellow teams and ensure that there's as much of a level playing field as possible, from that point on.
The return of Suncorp Super Netball means some of England's most experienced Vitality Roses will compete against each other, week in and week out.
Depending on selection calls, Round One could see Jo Harten and Stacey Francis duelling and then the NSW Swifts' Helen Housby taking on Adelaide Thunderbirds' Kate Shimmin or Guscoth.
For all of the Roses, August 1 will mark a welcome return to the game that they love and push them to regain their international form.
In the case of Harten, she'll be adding to her leadership skills after being announced as the GIANTS' captain and Geva Mentor will do the same, as she co-captains the Collingwood Magpies alongside Madi Browne. Chelsea Pitman also takes on the role of co-captain at the Adelaidle Thunderbirds.