New Zealand netball's new era of competition starts today with the first of the ANZ Premiership "Super Sunday" rounds.
The concept, which is among several new innovations in the league format this year, will see all six teams descend on the same venue for a triple-header. The opening round of action will be held at Hamilton's Claudelands Arena -- the home court of New Zealand's most successful franchise over the past decade, the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.
But as today's super-charged opening round will likely demonstrate, New Zealand netball's powerbase looks set to shift in the ANZ Championship.
2pm: Southern Steel v Northern Stars
The South Auckland-based Stars have a tough ask in their debut match. The early competition favourites the Southern Steel return with virtually an unchanged line-up to the one which blitzed through last year's regular season of the transtasman league unbeaten.
While the squad remains the same, they've acquired a few more Silver Ferns in their mix since last season, with Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Jane Watson and Gina Crampton all making their international debuts last year.
It's the Steel's key strike-weapon, 1.98m Jamaican shooter Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who is expected to pose the most problems this season.
Stars' ace Kayla Cullen, who will return to the defensive circle this season, joked matching up on Fowler-Reid this weekend might make her re-think that move.
"I don't think anyone yet has truly been able to shut her down. We just need to try and stop the ball further up court and limit the amount of ball she gets her hands on," said Cullen.
Given much of the Stars experience rests in the defensive end, with Cullen teaming with former Silver Fern Leana de Bruin, their success today may hinge the ability of their attack to match the efficiency and accuracy of the well-drilled Steel.
4pm: Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic v Mainland Tactix
The Magic were the most successful New Zealand team in the transtasman league, making the playoffs for all nine seasons, and winning the title once. The Waikato side may struggle to maintain that dominance in the ANZ Premiership.
With five of their 10-strong roster new to franchise-level, the Magic have the arguably the most inexperienced line-up in the competition. They've got some pretty handy experience in the mix as well, however, with former Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua making her comeback to elite netball after taking last season off for the birth of her first child.
Kopua will team with Ferns newcomer Kelly Jury in the defensive end -- a combination the national selectors will be watching closely.
The Magic also have a pretty well-established midcourt combination in Sam Sinclair and Grace Rasmussen, but the rest of the line-up face a steep learning curve.
The Waikato side will be looking to get some confidence out of their first-up test today against the Mainland Tactix -- another side light on experience.
Already lacking in star power, the Tactix cause won't be helped by the absence of skipper Jess Moulds, who continues to make her way back from a serious knee injury she suffered last year.
6pm: Northern Mystics v Central Pulse
The Mystics and the Pulse enter the new era of New Zealand netball looking to shake the "underachievers tag".
Over the past few years of the transtasman league, the two sides boasted strong line-ups, but were never able to deliver the consistent excellence required to be a force in the league. Both teams are now under new leadership -- the Mystics will be coached by Helene Wilson this season, while Silver Ferns assistant Yvette McCausland-Durie has taken the reins of the Pulse. Both coaches have looked to implement a new culture of hard work and accountability in their teams.
The Pulse looked the stronger of the two sides at the pre-season tournament in Otaki earlier this month, with their young, dynamic midcourt particularly impressive.
The Wellington-based side have also strengthened their shooting this season with the addition of Cathrine Tuivaiti, who will play a key leadership role at her new franchise. Today's match-up against the Mystics -- a team she spent the past nine seasons with -- will not be easy for Tuivaiti.
Mystics captain Maria Tutaia, Tuivaiti's long-time shooting partner, joked her close friend "looked ugly in yellow". Expect that sort of light-hearted banter before today's match, but when the players are on court, both will be desperate to win and get their teams off to a strong start.