The Silver Ferns will play Australia in a two-test series less than a month out from next year's world netball championships in Singapore.

Netball New Zealand are putting the finishing touches to their calendar for next year, but plans to squeeze in a test series against Australia in the small window after the final of the ANZ Championship and the start of the world champs on July 3 are close to being finalised.

The dates of June 9 and 12 have been set aside for the two transtasman clashes in New Zealand, with the venues to be confirmed.

The decision to play warm-up matches against their closest rivals and main competition for the world championship crown is certain to raise a few eyebrows.

New Zealand and Australia have contested four of the past five world championship finals since the finals system was introduced to the tournament format in 1991, and are heavily favoured to meet in the title decider in Singapore next year.

Some may question the wisdom of giving the Australians more opportunities to familiarise themselves with the Silver Ferns' game plan so close to the pinnacle event in world netball.

But Netball New Zealand chief executive Raelene Castle said the need to provide the Ferns with top-class competition in the lead-up to the tournament outweighed concerns.

"At the end of the day, the Silver Ferns need good, hard competition before they go into the world championships and who better than our old foes of Australia to play?" she said.

"And it was a logistical thing as well, to try and bring a touring team here before was just not possible."

Castle said in this era of regular transtasman competition it's arguable whether either side really has any trade secrets in danger of being exposed.

From a strategic and tactical point of view the Australians have never been so familiar; the foes now meet up to five times a year, as well as the regular games in the ANZ Championship.

Next year will be no exception, with the Silver Ferns to play a further three tests against Australia in October.

The Constellation Cup will be decided on the outcome of all five tests across the course of the year. Castle also said the Ferns will play a series against England in October, making it increasingly likely that the World Fastnet series will be staged in the Southern Hemisphere next year. The tournament was originally scheduled for Manchester in October 2011 but their major sponsor withdrew support, putting the future of the shortened version of the game in doubt.

It's understood Netball NZ and Netball Australia are working on a bailout plan, where Australia would host next year's World Fastnet series, and New Zealand, the 2012 edition.

Before Netball NZ can finalise their international calendar, they must first settle on their broadcast partner.

With Sky televising the Ferns' three-test tour of Britain next month, many are tipping the end of free-to-air netball and TVNZ's long association with Netball NZ.

But Castle said no deal has been finalised yet and they are still negotiating with Sky and TVNZ to sell broadcast rights for the next three years.


Silver Ferns v England
January 15, Manchester.
January 17, Nottingham.
January 19, London.

Silver Ferns v Australia
June 9, TBC.
June 12, TBC.

World Netball Champs
July 3-10, Singapore.

Silver Ferns v England
October, dates and venues TBC.

Silver Ferns v Australia (in Australia)
October, dates and venues TBC.