Premier League prep heats up

With teams having already held their first trial selections, the anticipation is quickly heating up with the approach of the inaugural Netball NSW Premier League in 2016.

The Netball NSW Premier League (NNSWPL) is a new competition aimed at attracting the best current and emerging talent within NSW.  Its purpose is to offer a local, elite platform for players, coaches, officials and administrators, and provide bridging opportunities into the Australian Netball League (ANL) and subsequent ANZ Championship.

The NNSWPL will be contested across two Divisions – Opens and Under 20s – with a Pre-Season tournament scheduled in March 2016, followed by a 14-week regular season beginning in mid-April, and a three-week Finals Series.

Through a robust application process, overseen by the NNSWPL Commission, eight successful Franchises have been granted an initial two-year NNSWPL Licence.

GWS Fury, Central Coast Heart, ERNA Hawks, Manly Sapphires, North Shore United, Panthers, UTS St George Sparks and Sutherland Stingrays will participate in the 2016-2017 seasons, and have begun confirming who will be at helm as NSW netball enters a new chapter.

GWS Fury
A successful application from Blacktown City, GWS Fury has confirmed all six Coaching Staff positions to oversee their Opens and Under 20s sides in 2016.  After steering City of Sydney/Sydney Uni to their maiden DOOLEYS State League Waratah Cup title in 2015, Jenny O’Keeffe has been appointed Fury’s Open Team Head Coach along with Maureen Stephenson as Manager.

Pate Cooper will take the reins of Fury’s Under 20 side with Nikki Welsford as Manager.  Both have had extensive experience at Academy of Sport-level over a number of years.

Heather Smith has also been confirmed as the franchise’s High Performance Manager, with the  Assistant Coaches yet to be announced.

GWS Fury Opens Under 20s
Head Coach Jenny O’Keeffe Pate Cooper
Assistant Coach TBC TBC
Manager Maureen Stephenson Nikki Welsford
Team Trials: CLOSED


Central Coast Heart
An amalgamation of the Gosford, Woy Woy, and Wyong District Netball Associations, the Heart have named NSW State Coach and current NSW Swifts Apprentice Coach Amber Cross to lead the Opens team as Head Coach, with former Central Coast Academy of Sport (CCAS) Assistant Megan Sharpe named her Assistant Coach.

Former NSW representative Nerida Stewart will take the helm of the Under 20s side as Head Coach for their inaugural season, passing on her extensive playing experience at both State and National level. She will be assisted by current CCAS Assistant Coach Jessica Morgan throughout the inaugural season.

The Heart have also confirmed former Hunter Jaegers Assistant Coach Marion van Munster will mentor their coaches throughout the season, with former Australian and NSW defender Alison Broadbent coming on board as a specialist coach.

Central Coast Heart Opens Under 20s
Head Coach Amber Cross Nerida Stewart*
Assistant Coach Megan Sharpe Jessica Morgan
Manager Jenene Carling Pamela Proctor
Team Trials: CLOSED


ERNA Hawks
After joining Eastwood Ryde mid-way through the 2015 DOOLEYS State League Waratah Cup season and helping them to a Grand Final appearance, experienced High Performance coach Joanne Macdermid will lead the Hawk’s Opens team in 2016.  Joining Macdermid as Assistant Coach will be current Sydney Netball Academy (SNA) Assistant Sandy Attard.

Nerida Cracknell will lead the Hawk’s Under 20 side, with Charlene Sommerville as Assistant Coach.

The Hawks have also confirmed Marilyn Latham has been appointed as Coaching Director, with their Managers to be selected later in September.

ERNA Hawks Opens Under 20s
Head Coach Joanne Macdermid Nerida Cracknell*
Assistant Coach Sandy Attard Charlene Sommerville*
Manager TBC TBC
Team Trials: CLOSED


Manly Warringah Sapphires
Former Sydney Netball Academy Head Coach Jen Wright has been announced to lead the Sapphires’ Open team, while Virginia Welsh will take the reins of the Under 20 side.

Manly Warringah Netball Association has confirmed both Assistant Coaches and Managers will be announced the week commencing Monday 7 September.

Manly Warringah Sapphires Opens Under 20s
Head Coach Jen Wright Virginia Welsh
Assistant Coach TBC TBC
Manager TBC TBC
Team Trials: CLOSED


North Shore United
Another amalgamation entry, North Shore United was a successful joint bid from Northern Suburbs and Ku-ring-gai Netball Associations.

Having not only confirmed their inaugural coaches, United have also announced specialists who will assist throughout the 2016 season… all under the guidance of Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic’s Julie Fitzgerald as Director of Coaching!

2015 NSW 19/U Champions Head Coach Briony Akle (Opens) and former Western Sydney Academy of Sport (WSAS) Assistant Coach Nardia Macdonald (Under 20s) have been appointed as inaugural Head Coaches, with former NSW State Team coach Colleen Mitchell and NSW 17/U Development Head Coach Leonie Stewart-Weeks as Assistant Coaches for the Opens and Under 20s, respectively.

Joining the coaching line-up will be none other than Liz Ellis AM (Specialist Defence) and Susan Pettitt (Specialist Shooting), who will lend their internationally-recognised talent and experience to United’s playing group.

United have also added experience to their Managerial positions, announcing 2015 Netball NSW Waratah Service Award recipient Jan Troy has been appointed to the Opens team.  Troy has a wealth of experience, having previously managed NSW State Teams including the NSW Swifts.

North Shore United Opens Under 20s
Head Coach Briony Akle Nardia Macdonald*
Assistant Coach Colleen Mitchell Leonie Stewart-Weeks
Manager Jan Troy TBC
Team Trials: CLOSED


Another successful joint bid Franchise, the Panthers will be overseen by former NSW Swifts Head Coach and Australian Diamonds Assistant Lisa Beehag, who has been appointed to the Opens team.

An amalgamation between Penrith, Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury City Netball Associations, the Panthers have also confirmed NSW 17/U Development Squad Assistant Coach and South West Sydney Academy of Sport’s Jaqua Heddle as Head Coach of their Under 20s side.

Whilst the Panthers are yet to confirm who will assist both coaches, they have announced Kay Minchin (Opens) and Jean Long (Under 20s) have been appointed Managers of their respective sides.

Panthers Opens Under 20s
Head Coach Lisa Beehag Jaqua Heddle
Assistant Coach TBC TBC
Manager Kay Minchin Jean Long
Team Trials: CLOSED


UTS St George Sparks
The Sparks are approaching their coaching staff appointments in a unique matter, confirming 2015 NSW 17/U Head Coach Moira Gaha will head a coaching panel which includes her Waratah Cup Assistant Coach Heath Brown* and former Australian and NSW representative Marcia Ella-Duncan*.

As High Performance Manager, Gaha will oversee both teams’ programs throughout the season with assistance from Brown and Ella-Duncan, with another to be confirmed by the Sparks at a later date.  Meanwhile NSW State Team Manager Deborah Kassing has also been confirmed to join the franchise, heading up a team of Managers yet to be appointed.

Former NSW representative Ali Tucker and long-time representative career coach Anne Eldridge* have also been confirmed as Apprentice Coaches for the inaugural Spark’s season.

UTS St George Sparks Opens Under 20s
Head Coach Moira Gaha TBC
Assistant Coach TBC TBC
Manager Deb Kassing TBC
Team Trials: CLOSED


Sutherland Stingrays
It has been confirmed long-time Sutherland shire coach and National Selector Maria Lynch will lead the Stingrays’ Open side in 2016.  Maria coaching resume includes five consecutive National 21/U Champions’ titles, and has been an integral member of the Shire Association for many years.

Joining Lynch is current Sydney Netball Academy Head Coach Jennie Webster who will take the reins of the Stingrays’ Under 20 side.

The Stingrays have also confirmed they’re looking to make further announcements on their coaching/managerial positions later in the month.

Sutherland Stingrays Opens Under 20s
Head Coach Maria Lynch Jennie Webster
Assistant Coach TBC TBC
Manager TBC TBC
Team Trials: Phase I scheduled Sat 5-Sun 6 September


*These coaches have been appointed on the condition they reach the appropriate Accreditation level prior to the 2016 Netball NSW Premier League commences.