Netball: Clashes may force changes to youth series

By Dana Johannsen

Organisers of next year's World Youth Cup may be forced to push the tournament back to avoid a scheduling clash with the transtasman league.

The tournament in the Cook Islands was originally set down for mid-July, about the same time as the ANZ Championships playoffs.

With seven of the members of the New Zealand Under-21 side having signed with ANZ Championship sides, and the possibility a few more will be picked up in the second round of contracting, the conflicting dates could have dire consequences for the Kiwi franchises.

Under-21 stars Paula Griffin (Central Pulse), Grace Rasmussen (Northern Mystics) and Julianna Naoupu (Southern Steel) are expected to play key roles with their respective sides.

But should the World Youth Cup remain in July they could miss up to five games.

Several Australian franchises are in a similar predicament, with the Queensland Firebirds marquee player Romelda Aiken set to represent Jamaica at the championships.

Another top shooter, the West Coast Fever's Caitlin Bassett, is in the Australian Under-21 team.

Player agents across the Tasman have expressed concern that young players on the fringe of ANZ Championship squads may miss out on selection because of their commitments for the World Youth Cup.

They say coaches could be reluctant to sign up Australian Under-21 players if there is a chance they won't be around for the business end of the season.

International Federation of Netball Associations vice-president Kereyn Smith said the world body had been made aware of the clash and they would discuss the possibility of shifting the tournament at a meeting in Manchester in two weeks.

"We were always aware there would be a potential clash but now with all the international players playing in the ANZ Championships I guess a formal request to look at dates around that is likely to be made and we'll be considering that in a couple of weeks," said Smith.

Pushing the tournament date back may also help out the hosts, with fears Rarotonga's new indoor stadium may not be ready in time. After lengthy delays construction began last month and is scheduled to be complete next June.

With organisers likely to be cutting it fine Smith admits "a bit of extra time won't be a bad thing".

Whatever the timing of the tournament, New Zealand Under-21 coach Yvette McCausland-Durie is confident the ANZ Championships won't interfere too much with her side's build-up to the WYC.

She named a 17-strong Under-21 squad after the finals of the National Championships in Rotorua at the weekend.

The squad will be involved in various training camps over the next 10 months and will have a prolonged build-up to next year's tournament.

But McCausland-Durie believes she will have the support of the franchise coaches

"We're waiting just like everyone to see those final squads and know exactly what we're working with and then have those conversations with coaches as to what they can release players for and what involvement we can have collectively for that player."

McCausland-Durie believes having so many players involved in the ANZ Champs could be beneficial for her side.

New Zealand Under-21 squad: Te Amo Amaru-Tibble (Wellington), Jodi Beaumont (Waikato), Hannah Broederlow (Otago), Alanah Cassidy (Waikato), Hayley Crofts (Southland), Paula Griffin (Silver Ferns), Larrissa Harrison (Waikato), Emma Iverson (North), Claire Kersten (Otago U21), Charlotte Kight (Canterbury), Camilla Lees (Otago), Jess Moulds (Otago), Julianna Naoupu (Southland), Grace Rasmussen (Auckland Waitakere), Te Huinga Reo Selby-Rickit (Southland), Te Paea Selby-Rickit (Western), Elias Shadrock (Bay of Plenty Gold).

- NZ Herald

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