There have been differing opinions on both sides of the Tasman since the ANZ Championship was discontinued; some positive and some negative.

In New Zealand, one theory was that the Sky television money was virtually bankrolling the competition and in Australia, many thought that they a lack of success from the Kiwi teams was a reason for the split.

Helene Wilson at Mystics training. Source: Northern Mystics

“From my point of view, we wanted to keep at least five teams in New Zealand up and going because with the new structures we have (here) we can have five competitive teams,” Northern Mystics coach Helene Wilson told Three Feet Radio.

“Historically in New Zealand, we had a great domestic competition (National Bank Cup) here that was incredibly competitive, there’s no reason why that can’t happen again.

“During that era from an international point of view, New Zealand had some of the best competitive times against Australia and I believe we get back to play our Kiwi style of netball; bringing out what’s best.”

Wilson has been installed as the new Mystics coach, replacing Debbie Fuller on the back of a strong background in representative netball and development. Mostly recently, she was in charge of the Northern team in the Beko Netball League, the Kiwi equivalent of the Australian Netball League.

The addition of the new league has helped to bridge the gap that was missing between the top level and second level of netball in New Zealand. Previously, the National Provincial Championship (NPC) was the underpinning competition but many Silver Ferns players and ANZ Championship contracted players didn’t play.

“Last year was our first year and having a longer competition that mirrored the ANZ in its ethos and the way it was put together was so valuable for the players,” said Wilson.

“The most valuable thing for them was getting into regular training and games each week; by the time they get into ANZ they really (are able to) understand what’s expected of them. It minimises the gap you have other otherwise.”

Two key signings have joined the Mystics with English international Sasha Corbin, shooter Bailey Mes, while veteran defender Anna Harrison returns. Harrison’s ability to play multiple defensive positions adds to her versatility.

“I would say Anna’s capable of playing all three defence positions, so tactically we can think about how we are going to use the players that we have in our team with Anna,” said Wilson.

“She’s a great student of the game and she has an understanding of how we can really set up some great tactical defence; one of her best strengths is that she’s always keen to learn more about how to play.”

The Mystics open their campaign against Central Pulse in Hamilton on Sunday March 26.