Basketball: Changes to Tauihi Aotearoa makes women's league attractive to world's top players

Major changes to women's basketball in New Zealand may bring some of the biggest names of the sport to these shores. 

Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa will double player wages this year, leaving women getting paid more than men.

While that's celebrated, a change in schedule and future addition of more teams have many hoping that overseas stars may come here. 

US college stars Catlin Clark and Charlise Leger-Walker.
US college stars Catlin Clark and Charlise Leger-Walker. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It's just exciting and I know the whole basketball community is fizzing with this news," says Tall Fern star Krystal Leger-Walker.

Many believe the groundbreaking news will open NZ basketball courts to the world. The expanded competition will also move from winter to spring.

"The attraction to play in New Zealand is not just because we are a bucket-list type of country," said former Tall Fern Megan Compain, the only Kiwi to play in the Women's NBA.

"It's because we'll have an incredibly talented, strong league and we'll be paying these players relative to what they would receive. The fact you can come home and play in a really meaningful competition... I wish it was 20 years ago."

Shifting the domestic competition to later in the year means the likes of US college star Charlisse Leger-Walker - currently at Washington State University and tipped as the next Kiwi WNBA performer - could join her sister in the league.

"She could play a season in the WNBA - the best league in the world - and then come home, bring her talents here and encourage other girls to go down that pathway," said Krystal.

Maybe even the new face of NCAA basketball, Iowa University star Caitlin Clark.

"Yeah, that's the plan," chuckled Krystal Leger-Walker. "I'll slide her a little DM [direct message] and send her the announcement after this."

Compain agrees: "They are legitimate opportunities to go after and say, 'Hey, finish up your WNBA season and then nip your way down here'.

"Wouldn't that be something?"