Netball: Eddie McGuire's bold sales pitch to NZ's top talent

Eddie McGuire. Photo / File.
Eddie McGuire. Photo / File.

Collingwood Football Club president Eddie McGuire has put in a bold sales pitch to attract New Zealand's top netballing talent to the new Melbourne-based franchise.

The famous AFL club was one of the three preferred bidders for the new franchise licences in a reshaped Australian domestic competition in 2017, with fellow AFL club the GWS Giants (Sydney-based) and NRL side the Melbourne Storm (who intend to base a team on the Sunshine Coast) the other two.

McGuire said broadening Collingwood's stable to include an elite netball team was part of the club's strategy to attract a great female support base.

Radio Sport's Kent Johns talks to Eddie McGuire:

The inclusion of private investors in the new Australian league has been met with resistence from some of the state-run bodies, who are concerned they will be unable to compete with the big money offers and resources of the likes of Collingwood.

McGuire did little to quell those fears, indicating the new Melbourne franchise would be aggressive with its recruitment - and that includes chasing top New Zealand players. He joked Collingwood's team colours would be a natural fit for Kiwi players.

"We want to win it. I would suggest to all the [women] over in New Zealand, the All Black and Whites is Collingwood - that's your AFL team, don't worry about anyone else, Collingwood and New Zealand should be side by side," the popular television personality told Radio Sport's The Sports Vox this afternoon.

"If the opportunity is there for athletes to come across here and it doesn't impinge on what New Zealand Netball are doing, then it would be a great thing."

"We're not out there to slash and burn and destroy. We want to build something that is significant, and help netball not only in Melbourne, but also the global game. It's such a great game, it's a bit like AFL in that it has a limited marketplace. But when people see it at the top level, you can't help but be absorbed by it."

Despite McGuire's unique sales pitch, it's unlikely New Zealand players will flock across the Tasman as was initially feared when news of the ANZ Championship split first surfaced.

Netball NZ's selection criteria states athletes must be play in New Zealand to be eligible for the Silver Ferns. Netball Australia boss Kate Palmer also made it clear the top Silver Ferns would be "off limits", with the Australians agreeing not to weaken the domestic league here, which includes the five current teams and an additional franchise in the greater Auckland area.

McGuire said women's sport is riding a wave of success and Collingwood - Australia's richest AFL club - want to be at the front of it.

"This is an opportunity to bring in another elite squad of female athletes in Melbourne," he said.

"At the moment in the Australian Football League, there's about 750 blokes being paid an average of $300,000. That's a lot of kids who can get out there and have a go. If you're a girl there's not many opportunities."

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