Former New Zealand international Irene van Dyk says the Australian exodus from the Transtasman Championship is perhaps a blessing in disguise.
"I think in the past three years of the eight years we've been playing against Australia, we've forgotten our authenticity," says the former 44-year-old Silver Ferns shooter who, along with ex-Australia Diamonds counterpart Catherine Cox, is an ambassador boosting the profile of the inaugural Court in the Bay in Hastings next month.
"We've been trying to beat them [Australian franchises] while trying to play like them. Unfortunately we've lost our way," says the former Central Pulse and Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic player, who holds the record of most-capped international (145) after representing her country of birth, South Africa, 72 times.
Speaking from Wellington, Van Dyk says it's imperative the Kiwis rebuild their identity around a proven template that promotes zonal defence and "mixing it up".
She saluted Netball New Zealand for holding on to Sky TV for coverage and ANZ Bank for doing a good job as major sponsors of the premier female code.
Having attended the Netball Australia-run NetFest last year, she thinks the Bay event can potentially provide more fun although it has a competitive element as well.
"People can dress up and it's all about the social aspect," she says, juxtaposing it with the Aussie one that incorporates a beach league among social and competitive grades.
The opportunity to hang out on the HB Regional Sports Park courts for a good part of the day and then build a rapport with other people passionate about the sport on a social level from outside the province or country gives it a sense of distinction.
The Netball Central Zone junior development officer says she and Cox will attempt to add an international flavour to the atmosphere.
"People can talk to us, take photos and hear our stories," says Van Dyk, revealing the pair were archrivals on the court but, after the game, they were good friends.
"There's so much more to netball than just playing the game," says the Netball NZ ambassador whose daughter, Bianca, 18, is on a university rowing scholarship in San Diego.
"She loves it. She's studying and training hard."