ANZ Championship announces 2012 Season Draw

Staff Writers, Tuesday, 20 September 2011.

  • World's best netball league returns for its fifth season in March 2012
  • 2012 Season returns to regular format: 14 regular rounds followed by three week Finals Series

The world's best netball league, the ANZ Championship, returns for its fifth season in March 2012. The season opener will see 2010 champions, the Adelaide Thunderbirds, host the NSW Swifts at Netball SA Stadium on Saturday 31 March.

All ten teams will contest Round 1, with other matches to be played in Auckland, Brisbane, Invercargill and Perth.

In 2012, the competition reverts to its standard 17 week format, comprising 14 regular rounds and the three week Finals Series.

All matches will be played on Saturdays, Sundays or Mondays. As in previous years, Australian and New Zealand teams will play the four other teams from their respective countries twice, and each team from the across the Tasman once.

Matches will be played in 17 different venues, including two newly opened venues for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Magic - Claudelands Arena in Hamilton, and Tauranga's TECT Arena. Next season also sees the return of the ANZ Championship to Newcastle (Swifts v Fever, Round 8) and Napier (Pulse v Steel, Round 2).

The 2012 season includes two completely trans-Tasman rounds (Rounds 6 and 14). Fans will have to wait until almost mid-way through the season for the 2011 Grand Final re-match, when reigning Champions, the Queensland Firebirds, take on number one New Zealand side, the LG Mystics.

The 2012 Grand Final will be held on Sunday 22 or Monday 23 July.

ANZ Championship General Manager Anthony Everard said, "With the 2011 season finishing almost two months earlier than usual, we are in the midst of an extended off-season.

"However, there has certainly been no lack of action off the court; we have been watching with great interest during the current athlete contracting period.

"In our four seasons to date, seven of the competitions ten teams have contested finals netball", he continued.

"With some key player movement between teams, there's every reason to expect that 2012 will throw up as many surprises as we've seen in previous years".

Although teams have until 31 October to name their final squads of 12, there have been several key signings announced in recent weeks - including moves for joint 2011 MVP winner Leana de Bruin (Steel to Magic); 2008 premiership players Cath Cox (Swifts to Fever) and Rebecca Bulley (Swifts to Thunderbirds); and 2009 premiership player Renae Hallinan (Vixens to Thunderbirds).

Five of the competition's ten teams have appointed new head coaches: NSW Swifts - Lisa Beehag, West Coast Fever - Norma Plummer, Haier Pulse - Robyn Broughton, Mercury Energy Tactix - Leigh Gibbs, and Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel - Natalie Avellino and Janine Southby.

Final team lists will be announced in early November; in the meantime, fans can keep track of key signings via the athlete tracker on www-anz-championship.com.

The 2012 ANZ Championship will once again be broadcast on SKY Sport in New Zealand, and Network Ten (TEN and ONE) in Australia.

Click here for the full 2012 Season Draw. Note that match times are still to be finalised.