Shabby treat­ment from Aussie net­ball

Central Leader - - SPORT - JOSEPH ROMANOS

Leop­ards don’t change their spots – Aus­tralian net­ball chiefs have been typ­i­cally ruth­less in their deal­ings with New Zealand over the fu­ture of the trans-Tas­man cham­pi­onship.

Aus­tralia have of­ten lauded it over their smaller cousins in sport.

Strange to think that in 1908 and 1912 a com­bined Aus­tralasian team en­tered the Olympic Games and, what’s more, in 1908, New Zealand walker Henry Mur­ray was the team flag-bearer.

Such gen­eros­ity from our neigh­bours ceased long ago.

Aus­tralia fi­nally fronted for a cricket test against New Zealand in 1946. It was played on an ap­palling pitch at the Basin Re­serve, and didn’t last two days. Not un­til 1973 did Aus­tralia con­sent to play an­other test.

In the in­ter­ven­ing years they kindly sent B teams and let New Zealand teams play their state sides.

Even now it’s dif­fi­cult for our crick­eters to get a fair shake of the dice – when was New Zealand last in­vited to play in the pres­ti­gious Boxing Day test in Mel­bourne?

The ANZ net­ball cham­pi­onship has been run­ning since 2008.

Four Aus­tralian teams have won it and only one New Zealand side, the Magic, in 2012. The Aus­tralians win more than twothirds of their matches against New Zealand sides.

Now the Aus­tralians plan to drop New Zealand and run a 17-week do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion in­volv­ing eight teams.

New Zealand had lever­age pre­vi­ously, be­cause Sky Tele­vi­sion was a ma­jor backer of the event.

Now Fox Sports and the Ten Net­work are on board, so it’s good­bye New Zealand.

The Aus­tralians seem happy to op­er­ate in splen­did iso­la­tion, just as they have in Aussie Rules.

Per­haps they think their new net­ball com­pe­ti­tion will be like cricket’s IPL, or the English foot­ball pre­mier­ship, with over­seas stars bol­ster­ing a do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion.

What­ever hap­pens, it will suit Aus­tralia, not New Zealand. It will cause in­ter­na­tional net­ball to be­come ab­surdly lop­sided, but the Aussies don’t have the vi­sion to be con­cerned about that.

It’s in­ter­est­ing com­par­ing net­ball’s think­ing with other sports.

In Su­per Rugby, New Zealand teams have won 13 of the 20 com­pe­ti­tions.

Only one New Zealand team, the Hur­ri­canes, have not won it.

By con­trast Aus­tralian teams the Force and the Rebels, South African teams the Storm­ers, Kings, Sharks and Chee­tahs, Ar­gentina’s Jaguares and, of course, the new Sun­wolves of Ja­pan have not won it.

There have been no gripes from New Zealand, which em­braces the in­ter­na­tional na­ture of the event.

New Zealand’s team in the Na­tional Rugby League, the War­riors, have made two fi­nals, in 2002 and 2011, since their de­but in 1995.

Apart from those ef­forts, the War­riors have been pretty undis­tin­guished, but league of­fi­cials value their pres­ence.

The Phoenix have not made a fi­nal since their A-League foot­ball de­but in 2007 and there was se­ri­ous talk re­cently of dis­pens­ing with them, but they have hung on.

They en­hance the A-League, even in their bad years.

The Break­ers had an in­aus­pi­cious be­gin­ning to their NBL basketball ex­pe­ri­ence, los­ing nine of 10 games at one point in their de­but sea­son, 2003-04, and fin­ish­ing last the next sea­son.

But the NBL per­sisted and the Break­ers, a crack side, have now won four ti­tles.

They just needed time.

What a pity Aus­tralian net­ball wasn’t pa­tient enough to learn that les­son.

PHOTO: FAIRFAX

The tri­umphant Magic play­ers in 2012, when they won the ANZ Cham­pi­onship.

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