Super Netball hopes to rise from past chaos with fresh start to 2024 season

Rising out of the chaos of last year’s battle over a new pay deal, the flurry of lineup changes and the addition of a new team means this Super Netball season promises to be more unpredictable than ever.

Getting under way this weekend, champions Adelaide Thunderbirds open with a home clash against the Queensland Firebirds on 13 April as they look to become the first team since the Sunshine Coast Lightning in 2017-2018 to win back-to-back titles.

They will have to do it without star England goaler Eleanor Cardwell, who joined the competition’s newest outfit, the Melbourne Mavericks, alongside former Thunderbirds assistant coach Tracey Neville.

However, three-time premiership player Romelda Aiken-George and Laura Scherian, who was part of the Lightning championships, are very handy replacements for the Thunderbirds.

“We’ve got some new girls coming in, we’ve got a new flavour of netball as well as sticking to what worked well for us last year,” captain Hannah Petty said.

While the Melbourne Vixens (Lily Graham, Emily Andrew) and Giants (Erin O’Brien) have called up fresh talent to their squads, the NSW Swifts have been able to remain fairly stable and made a statement by winning the Team Girls Cup in March.

The major change for last year’s losing grand finalists is the return of shooter Sam Wallace-Joseph after two years on the sidelines with an ACL injury.

West Coast Fever were forced to recruit heavily, with only four players from their third-ranked 2023 side remaining. But close results in the pre-season competition showed they will still be a threat.

Giants co-captain Jamie-Lee Price said last year’s three-month contractual standoff with Netball Australia meant uncertainty for all.
View image in fullscreenThe Thunderbirds will start their title defence against the Firebirds on 13 April. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

“We had a really disruptive pre-season, which then led into, I guess, a really disrupted in-season,” Price said, flagging her team’s bumpy start during the Team Girls Cup.

The Mavericks have got off to a shaky start to Super Netball life, coming out of the pre-season tournament without a win.skip past newsletter promotion

They have promoted training partners Shimona Jok and Rolene Streutker, with the pair expected to make a mark after a sickening leg injury to Sasha Glasgow and an ACL problem that has sidelined defender Lauren Moore for the entire 2024 season.

The Firebirds are also on the hunt after coming seventh in 2023, just ahead of the now defunct Collingwood Magpies.

The Firebirds captain, Kim Ravaillion, said her side is primed to go, with the Queenslander returning to full duties after back surgery late last year – meaning she had to sit out most of the pre-season.

“Seeing the girls get out there has only inspired me to work super-hard in my rehab … I’ve got to round one and that was my aim,” she said.

One fresh feature for 2024 is the addition of an 11th player to match-day squads as a substitute option, specifically designated as one of the team’s training partners who has played fewer than five league matches or is under 26.

It is hoped the rule tweak will offer more players a chance to debut at the elite level.