Origin Debuts in Qld

NSW took the honours in the debut origin weekend in Qld, but men’s netball was the real winner after unprecedented coverage that could see the format become a new product for the game.

It took a series deciding third match for the new look NSW and Qld sides to be separated, with the visiting NSW Opens side producing a 26 goal turn around in game 3 for the win. NSW was also successful in reserves and 20s division.

The countries top two ranked teams showed their depth as they unveiled several future stars debuting in opens division, alongside some of the countries finest established talent. NSW blooded emerging stars Vandervelde, Miller and Price, and pathway progressed Nexhip, Kelly and Catalano across the series – showing the Waratah states depth of talent continues to grow. The number 1 ranked Queenslanders are also rebuilding with youth, debuting teenage sensation Webb, and pathway progressing Maher, Williamson and Schloss. But it was veteran defender Merrow Clough who won player of the tournament and looks in ominous form leading into nationals next month.

The series was picked up by ABC, channel 9, Firebirds and Suncorp media channels and was played out in front of record men’s crowds at Nissan Arena. The live feeds were viewed by fans in the US, UK and Asia, as well as hundreds of fans locally. This coverage is “symbolic of the current interest in our sport” said AMMNAs lead for strategy and game development Heath Brown.

“The State of the Game Review by Netball Australia provides our version of the sport with a platform we have never had – acknowledgement that we are a growth channel for the future of netball. To leverage this we have to present our elite product in new and different ways. We have to applaud the creativity and collaboration between Netball Qld and Queensland Suns to bring our fans this new format which really does set the pace for program innovation around the country.” Brown said.

“Not only was the game a great experience for the athletes that took to the elite court for the first time since COVID, it was just as important for the thousands of new eyes on our game where hopefully parents and boys become aware of our pathway and drive our participation agenda.” Brown said.

The Qld tournament now provides the opportunity for other men’s and mixed bodies to approach their state counterparts to build similar partnerships, as well as AMMNA the opportunity to build national expansion plans for elite netball.

“To be a commercially relevant product, we know we have to be seen more often than a once a year nationals and will be testing and learning more with this and other format across our states. The Qld administrators have produced something special, and we hope this starts a wave of cross-season spectacles for men’s and mixed netball fans around the world to watch our game”. Brown said.

Netball fans eyes now turn to Adelaide, where the first nationals tournament in two years will run in early July.

“If you thought Origin was a show, wait until you see what epic contests many states coming together produces”, Brown added.

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