Dana Johannsen

Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald’s chief sports reporter

Netball: Salary cap increasing to $380,000

Donna Wilkins. Photo / Christine Cornege
Donna Wilkins. Photo / Christine Cornege

The transtasman league salary cap is set to be increased for the first time in five years, but it is unlikely our top netballers will be significantly better off.

The player contracting model for Kiwi teams has undergone a major shake-up as part of the New Zealand Netball Players' Association's (NZNPA) new collective agreement.

After lengthy negotiations, which has left the Kiwi franchises unable to assemble their rosters for next year, the new agreement is close to receiving sign-off.

While NZNPA boss Tim Lythe told the Herald in June only minor tweaks would be made to the collective, it appears more far-reaching changes have been made. It is understood the salary cap will increase from $300,000 to around $380,000, but it may not necessarily mean players will receive more in their pockets.

The cap will be a "hard" cap, meaning all player payments and incentives fall under that figure.

One of the key drivers for the change is to prevent franchises from spending beyond their means.

Four of the five Kiwi teams posted losses for the last financial year - positions that in most cases could have been avoided if they had stuck within the salary cap.

Changes to squad sizes are also believed in the pipeline, with franchises now having the option of being able to contract two development players on top of their 12-strong team. While the contract negotiations have been taking place over the last three months, the franchises have been trapped in a holding pattern, unable to officially sign any players.

Despite player recruitment having been stalled, a picture is emerging of what team changes we can expect next season.

The Pulse have been extremely aggressive in the off-season, with coach Robyn Broughton approaching several top shooters.

Donna Wilkins is expected to link up with her former coach in what is likely to be her final season of top-level netball.

It is believed another former Steel star, Liana Leota, will also join Broughton's side next year.

Leota, who has been based in the UK this year, is rumoured to be returning to the transtasman league in 2013.

The nippy midcourter, who returned to New Zealand over the winter to give birth to her son, was back playing club netball in the Manawatu two weeks later.

She could join the Pulse as early as November, with the Wellington-based team taking part in the world club challenge in Glasgow.

The tournament, which will also include the West Coast Fever, UK Superleague teams Surrey Storm and Northern Thunder, the Northern Panthers from Northern Ireland and the Scottish Thistles, is being run as a test event for the 2013 World Youth Champs and 2014 Commonwealth Games.

- NZ Herald

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