Netball Players' Association President Natalie Medhurst labels Netball Australia, Super Netball 'disrespectful'

Helen Housby takes a 'Super Shot' during the Netball Bushfire Relief charity match. Jaimi Joy/Getty Images

Collingwood shooter and Australian Netball Players' Association [ANPA] president Natalie Medhurst has labelled Netball Australia's and Super Netball's rule change announcement "disrespectful" after they announced the two-point 'Super Shot' without any player or coaching consultation.

On Tuesday, Super Netball announced the latest rule change just five weeks ahead of the season starting date, August 1, to the anger of players who had been informed of the new rule just an hour before the announcement was made.

Many players took to social media to vent their frustration with the sporting body, including Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett who likened the reasoning behind the rule change to that of the Lingerie Football League.

Speaking exclusively to ESPN, Medhurst said the actions of Netball Australia and Super Netball had undone the growing relationship the ANPA had developed with the sporting bodies.

"You could probably say the vast majority of players were pretty disappointed with the way in which it was handled," Medhurst said.

"On the back of COVID as well, the way in which the players have dealt with everything; the pay cuts, players have gone above and beyond.

"We've already endured an eight-month pre-season, to make a decision as big as this without any consultation from any key stakeholders whether that be players, coaches, the competition committee, has sort of blown everyone away and was quite disrespectful.

"We've been working incredibly hard over the last eighteen months or so to build some pretty strong relationships with Netball Australia and SSN [Suncorp Super Netball] and I think that's all been a little bit undone over the last 24 hours which has been incredibly disappointing."

Medhurst believes the actions of NA and SSN flies in the face of the goodwill the bodies had established over the pandemic period after players agreed to substantial pay cuts to help the code survive the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Yeah, they have [undone a lot of goodwill]. The ease that all those pay negotiations and the way that all went is on the back of the player's association and all the players across the entire league being incredibly professional. We certainly had some players taking some pretty massive hits," she told ESPN.

"The way in which they've gone about this new rule, any previous discussions that had been had around this rule had been knocked back, both by players and fans, it was something that people weren't keen to have.

"We've always asked that for it to be trialed and we we're advised it was too hard to do, but yet it wasn't too hard to implement straight into the top league."

The new two-point shot is not the only rule that will be implemented for the 2020 season, with the introduction of the rolling substitute announced earlier this year after the consultation of players and coaches. The implementation of the two rules have players worried with the direction the sport is taking.

"We're already seeing changes being implemented this season; we're having rotating subs, which is very different, which is going to add a different element to the game, but then to put the two-point shot in as well -- we're just moving further and further away from grassroots netball," Medhurst said.

"So many of people grew up playing, we love and are incredibly passionate about netball, and we continue to strive to promote and continue having kids playing and being really good role models.

"That was an element that was also aired amongst the playing group, it's a big concern, where is our sport actually going, are we creating something that's completely different to anything that's being played around the country or overseas."

In a statement on Wednesday Super Netball Commission Chair Marino Go responded to player and fan anger and attempted to placate irate fans, and reasoned the sport was attempting to build the fan base.

"We believe the Super Shot will bring new fans to the game which in turn will enable us to shine the spotlight on our amazing female athletes and their skill. It is an initiative to get the sporting public who ignore our sport today to reconsider."

It's a statement Medhurst rubbished.

"They have their reasons for putting the rule in, I don't think they're overly legitimate," she told ESPN.

"The way in which it's all been handled, it seems like quite a panicked decision by the SSN commission, even the competition committee that had been put in place over the last eighteen months weren't advised on it.

"I found it quite interesting that Marina said that players and coaches were on board with the decision, because speaking to all the delegates and the playing group, that's certainly not what we've heard. I'm not too sure what players in what countries she's talking to."