• Australia coach Lisa Alexander gives her players instructions during the 2015 Netball World Cup on August 16, 2015 in Sydney (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Netball’s governing body, Netball Australia, has given its strongest indication yet it is contemplating major rule changes for next year’s new eight-team Australian league, launching a fan survey on the subject on Friday. The response online has been swift and strong.
Erin Delahunty

20 Jul 2016 - 10:30 AM  UPDATED 20 Jul 2016 - 10:31 AM

The four-question survey, open until July 20, asks fans’ opinions about the potential introduction of a two-point scoring zone for part or all of matches, coach-initiated time-outs and soccer-style shoot-outs to find a winner in drawn games.

On Facebook, hundreds of fans were quick to vent their spleen, posting almost-exclusively negative comments on Netball Australia’s and other fan pages. “A big fat negative to all! It’s netball, not basketball!” said one. “Nope, nope, nope and nope. If it ain’t broke, don't fix it!” said another.

“No to absolutely everything. If they put any of these into the game, it won’t be netball any more. It works the way it is and it should stay that way.”

There were hundreds of comments posted.

National coach Lisa Alexander, who is part of a working group looking at potential changes in the new domestic league, told SBS Zela having different rules at home and at international level was fraught.

“For me, personally, my job depends on getting results at the international level, so I don’t want two-point shots.

“It would require a completely different preparation, as that (game) environment is very different. It would require more time together as a team before an international potentially,” Alexander said.

“I think the game needs to be kept in its purest form. We have a great game, you only have to look at the current ANZ Championship final series or at last year’s amazing grand final,” she said.

Alexander pointed to the experimental Fast 5 format – which features five instead of seven players on-court and a raft of unique rules, including different scoring zones and rolling stoppages – as the place for innovation. “We already have that point of difference with Fast 5,” she said.

“Last week, I had a chance to watch the (basketball) Boomers and while they’re at the top level, I have to say, I don’t necessarily like three-point shots. It just didn’t wash with me. To differentiate ourselves from basketball, I think it’s important netball maintain its purity,” Alexander said.

The Netball World Cup-winning coach said the game’s bosses would listen to fans. “The fans will have their say and I and others on the committee will take notice of what fans think,” she said.

One person with a big stake is Diamonds and Queensland Firebirds captain Laura Geitz, who said earlier this year the introduction of different scoring zones would change the “whole concept of the game.”

“As a defender, you try to push your player as far away as possible from the post, but that (a scoring zone) would mean you’d be wanting to push them closer to the post … that changes the game,” she told Guardian Australia.

Netball Australia CEO, Kate Palmer, knows the two-point proposal is contentious. “We recognise that the idea of this rule in particular has caused controversy amongst the netball community. All potential changes will be carefully considered, with consultation,” Palmer said.

At the announcement of the new league in May, Palmer said Netball Australia wouldn’t make changes “just for the sake of changes.” She has also since denied allegations rule changes were demanded by new broadcast partner, the Nine Network.

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