Jhaniele Fowler starred for West Coast Fever this year.
Jhaniele Fowler starred for West Coast Fever this year.

Import overload threatens to stifle home-grown talent

DIAMONDS coach Lisa Alexander has warned the next generation of Australian goal shooters could be sabotaged by the increasing trend towards international spearheads in Super Netball.

As the final spots on rosters were this week finalised, all eight franchises will have imports filling up attacking positions in their goal circle next season.

Alexander said there was a risk succession plans for frontline goal shooters Caitlin Bassett and Caitlin Thwaites could be obstructed if there were not opportunities given to young Australian talent ahead of internationals.

After Australia's one-goal loss to England at the Commonwealth Games, Alexander suggested the league's import policy helped the Roses claim gold, saying it was "our high-performance system working for another country''.

 

But it's the domination of international goalers in the national league that has become of most concern to Alexander, who has raised the issue with the Netball Australia board.

Romelda Aiken will again lead the Firebirds attack.  (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Romelda Aiken will again lead the Firebirds attack. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images) Mark Evans

"It's something myself and our head of high performance Andrew Collins have made sure we have kept the board across,'' Alexander said.

"They know that that's an issue. We did warn them about that a couple of years ago when the rules of the competition were first drawn up.

"We need to make sure the athletes in those positions are getting the training time and playing time in our ANL we need and when there is an opportunity we do get an Australian shooter into one of those positions.

"In the future we have got to keep an eye on it because we can't get into a situation where all of the teams have got international shooters because then we are not doing the right thing by our own Australian team.''

Maria Folau recently signed with the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Picture: Getty.
Maria Folau recently signed with the Adelaide Thunderbirds. Picture: Getty.

The line-ups next year will be flooded with international goalers.

The Fever have Jhaniele Fowler (Jamaica), Magpies secured Shimona Nelson (Jamaica), the Lightning recruited Peace Proscovia (Uganda), the Firebirds have their long-time star Romelda Aiken (Jamaica), while the Thunderbirds this week landed Silver Ferns star Maria Folau.

The Giants regained Jo Harten (England), the Swifts kept their two international goalers Sammy Wallace (Trinidad) and Helen Housby (England) and the Vixens have newcomer Ine-Mari Venter (South Africa) and Mwai Kumwenda (Malawi) - when she returns from injury.

Alexander said she would like to see the number of imports limited to two and, if the trend towards international goalers continued, a possible restriction on positions as well.

"I'm sure there are ways that we could work it that would assist the development of the goal shooters for Australia,'' she said.

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