Stars outraged as netball goes ‘back to the future’
IT'S the biggest rule change in the history of netball, but it has divided players, coaches and fans around the world - the two-point "super shot."
On Tuesday, Suncorp Super Netball announced that goal shooters and goal attacks would be able to take a two-point "super shot" during the last five minutes of each quarter, from a 1.9me designated zone around the goal circle.
The bombshell rule has been revealed just five weeks before the 2020 season starts on August 1, and copped strong backlash from both players and fans.
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Australian Diamonds shooter Caitlin Thwaites slammed Super Netball on Twitter, posting that, "Players not being consulted over the biggest rule change netball has seen is terrible."
Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett was also scathing after the news broke and uploaded an image of female NFL players wearing lingerie to Instagram with the caption, "the next change to make netball more 'entertaining'".
Over the past three Super Netball seasons, 90 per cent of goals were scored within 3m of the post.
Super Netball CEO Chris Symington said the new rule would encourage shooters who took risky longer shots and make the game more exciting.
"We believe the super shot will spark new tactics, further showcase the world-class skills of our athletes and add another level of hype and excitement to our matches," Symington said.
"With the ever-growing competition for the attention of fans, the time is right to introduce an innovation that will make the game even more dynamic and unpredictable."
The "super shot" is a permanent fixture in Fast5 netball and was trialled at Netball Australia's bushfire charity match between the Diamonds and the All Stars earlier this year.
But fans have been reluctant to welcome the rule into the seven-player game.
NSW Swifts coach Briony Akle, however, said that while most coaches would hate the rule change, she was excited to work with it.
"A lot of people are hating it and don't want it to come into play, but I think for our sport, a change had to happen somewhere, if we wanted to grow the sport, get new spectators, get new viewers, and make it even more exciting," Akle said.
"If you go back 20 years, the Australian way was to be able to shoot from anywhere, it was considered exciting that we took the risk, took longer shots, it's almost back to the future for netball.
"And if it doesn't work we have to have the graciousness to say that it didn't work and then go back to what it was."
Super Netball has also introduced rolling substitutes this season.
Swifts goal shooter Sophie Garbin said that netball must evolve to compete with other sports.
"With other women's sports coming into the light, I think we definitely need to … I think we should give it a try, and if it doesn't work we can just go back to normal. But if it does, it could be a whole new world of possibilities for us," Garbin said.
Australian legend Liz Ellis expects the rule will bring new and exciting strategy to the game.
"I know that the majority of fans don't like it that have been surveyed, I know a lot of players don't like it," Ellis said.
"What it's trying to counter is the dominance of the tall shooter standing in the middle of the circle, and the long bomb going in … I like the fact that it's an attempt to bring the long shooting goal attacks in the game.
"And if it's a shit show, then that's exactly what it is, and we walk away from it."
The Super Shot will apply to the Suncorp Super Netball competition only and will not be introduced at any other level of the game.
Gimmicky but it might just work
MORE than a million Australians played netball in 2019, writes Jocelyn Airth.
The Diamonds are one of our most successful sporting teams in history.
Netballers are even featured on a page of the Australian passport.
So why is it that only 4800 - on average - people turn up to Suncorp Super Netball (SSN) games?
We have the very best talent playing Down Under, but netball is still fighting to convert its participants into Super Netball spectators.
Here's where the "super shot" might just help.
The overwhelming majority of players, coaches and fans were enraged by SSN's decision to introduce the two-goal shot, just five weeks before the start of the 2020 season.
Officials definitely should have given clubs more notice and better consulted with the playing group before dropping the bomb.
But this rule change could be just what netball needs to evolve and attract new fans in a nation with almost too many sporting leagues to follow.
During the last five minutes of each quarter, shooters can take a two-goal shot from a 1.9 metre designated zone in the goal circle.
Add to that, the addition of rolling substitutions.
Just imaging the damage Caitlin Thwaites, Jo Harten and Helen Housby will do.
Think of what Maria Folau could have done.
Will we see specialist long-range shooters emerge from the league and sub on at the end of each quarter?
How will defenders adjust tactics?
Can the "super shot" help a team come back or win a tight match?
The two-pointer was trialled at Netball Australia's Diamonds vs All Stars bushfire charity match back in March and fans hated it.
But fans should not judge the rule on that game alone.
The All Stars side trained only once, included 14 players from different clubs and played the world no.1 side. The "super shot" was used the way it could be.
If coaches embrace the new rule, it will add excitement.
Or it could crash and burn.
Either way, it's worth a shot.
At least officials are determined to ensure that netball remains an entertaining and competitive product in Australia.
Originally published as Stars outraged as netball goes 'back to the future'