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Season’s end now in sight

Tentative dates have been set for Gisborne netball's premier grade preliminary finals and senior finals day.

The premier preliminary finals will be held on Wednesday night next week, and the senior finals will be held on Saturday next week.

“We have tentatively planned those dates as the ideal timeframe to play out our season,” Gisborne Netball Centre manager Allisa Hall said.

“However, at this stage, these are all conditional on both the YMCA and the Sport NZ Level 2 information.

“Should there be an area that cannot work in, we will be looking at ‘Plan B' scenarios we've considered over the past few weeks, and this does not exclude premier games being played outside if required,” Hall said.

“Certainly the move to Level 2 is exciting news, and a step closer to being back to normal.

“Netball NZ guidelines require us to have at least a week in Level 2 before we resume competition.

“This will give teams a chance to train and get back into netball activity after a break away from on-court action.

“This is following the ‘NetballSmart' and ‘Balance is Better' philosophies to support athletes returning to sport in a bid to reduce chances of injury due to this unforeseen break in our season.

“It will also allow us time to finalise how the remaining competition might look while adhering to the revised Level 2 requirements.”

Hall said they were still awaiting the finalised guidelines from Sport NZ around team sports in Level 2, so the centre could make sure anything planned was in line.

“We are also needing some confirmation from the YMCA around the premier grade games.

“Under Level 2 previously we could not have spectators at the games, so we will be looking at how we can provide streams of games for members.

“We also need to look again at timing to manage numbers on-site, so the previous draw is void, and we will have to look at a new draw once we are able to get the new Level 2 plan implemented.

“It is likely that game times will need to be changed to allow us to manage the gathering numbers.”

When it comes to team training sessions, teams should contact Hall to confirm booking times for courts at Victoria Domain.

“Teams will be required to give us a contact tracing list for everyone on-site with their training.”

If teams trained elsewhere, such as at a school facility, they should check with the school management that they were happy to have non-school visitors on-site for training.

“If you cannot use their facility at the moment, please contact me to arrange a court at the Gisborne Netball Centre.

“For all other use, Victoria Domain will not be available. Teams or usage must be booked and allocated to a space.”

Hall said they were looking at getting the men's league under way soon, too.

“But we need to finalise information for our senior finals first.”

The Poverty Bay representative rugby team will play their first Heartland match of the season away to Whanganui on September 18.

The Heartland competition is expected to continue as usual from Week 5 of the competition, with the postponed first four weeks of games being played after the scheduled regular season.

With summer just around the corner, no announcement has been made on whether all games will be played or a shortened season implemented.

No Heartland teams are affected by Auckland remaining in lockdown, which will prevent Auckland, North Harbour and Counties Manukau's NPC and Farah Palmer Cup teams from playing.

Co-head coach Tom Cairns said the team had been doing group fitness challenges and individual exercises over lockdown.

He said that when Level 3 came in, several of the players went back to work in high-intensity jobs, such as shearing, that would maintain their fitness.

Team members were still waiting for advice on what their training would look like under Level 2 guidelines. This information was expected to be received today.

Outside play possible: The possibility of premier games being played on outdoor courts is not excluded in plans to complete the Gisborne netball season. Pictured are (from left) Nadia Whaitiri-White (Whangara), Ata Mangu (YMP) and Taryn Walford (Whangara). Picture by Paul Rickard