THE 2023 ANZ Premiership schedule has been confirmed in an announcement from the league yesterday. The condensed 12-round season will run from March 4 until May 22, before the finals take place to decide the champion. With the 2023 Netball World Cup in South Africa taking place in July, the earlier schedule allows for a break between the domestic and international competitions not just for the Silver Ferns players, but for the variety of imports who will run out for the respective teams next season.
Northern Mystics and Southern Steel open the new season on Saturday, March 4 in a standalone clash at The Trusts Arena. It is the first of three games on three separate days for clubs to hit the court in a standard weekend of action, as reigning premiers Central Pulse begin their title defence against Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic the following day at Fly Palmy Arena. Wrapping up the opening round is last year’s runners-up Northern Stars hosting Mainland Tactix at 7pm on Monday, March 6.
In the opening game of the season, South African teenager Carys Stythe will run out for the Mystics, gaining valuable experience alongside Silver Ferns duo Phoenix Karaka and Sulu Fitzpatrick. Their opposition the Southern Steel welcome talented midcourter Samantha Winders to form a strong one-two duo at centre and wing attack with Shannon Saunders feeding to Roses shooter George Fisher.
Central Pulse have a trio of new faces in the team, headlined by Malawi star shooter Joyce Mvula who has crossed from Manchester Thunder in the Vitality Netball Superleague (VNSL). Fa’amu Ioane has also joined the Pulse from the Mystics for the 2023 season. Charlotte Elley is he sole inclusion for Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, with the star shooting combination of Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Bailey Mes to be more settled with a season together under their belts.
Northern Stars will have a couple of former Mainland Tactix players join the ranks for their Round 1 battle with the Tactix after Kelera Nawai-Caucau and Samon Nathan switched sides. The Tactix have a couple of huge inclusions for their side however, as young shooter Aliyah Dunn brings title-winning experience from her season with the Pulse, while Roses midcourter Laura Malcolm also lifted a trophy in 2022, being a member of the VNSL-winning Manchester Thunder outfit.
In terms of the overall season fixture, Saturday night action will return for 2023, alongside double-header weekends, which was something that Netball New Zealand head of events Emma Fowlie said would be exciting for netball fans.
“We have found in the past that netball holds its own in the prime time Saturday night slot and it will add something special to a weekend of competition,” she said. “There is another pinnacle event for our sport next year, so we have again condensed the draw to allow a full three rounds over 12 weeks leading into the Netball World Cup in South Africa.
“We know the ANZ Premiership will play an important role in the Silver Ferns build-up to their title defence on the world stage, so we can expect some fierce competition as our athletes look to put their best foot forward.”