Netball: Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekanasio calls for change, as new ANZ Premiership season approaches

Silver Ferns captain Ameliaranne Ekensaio is leading calls for big changes to New Zealand's domestic competition, claiming our netballers "can only be better if we play the best".

This weekend marks the start of the ANZ Premiership, which pulled away from trans-Tasman competition in 2017, but some believe our lack of international exposure is now having a major impact on New Zealand's performance internationally. 

"There's still a gap," admitted Ekenasio. "[Work] still needs to be done.

"It's not new, we've said this for quite a long time." 

The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic and Silver Ferns captain wants Kiwi sides to play domestic teams from other countries during the season.

"That can work and we're up for it as players," added Ekenasio. "We want to have that as players.

"We want to be better, you know. We can only do that by playing the best."

Some teams have already had a taste of playing international domestic sides. Melbourne Vixens, one of Australia's best sides, played Northern Mystics and Northern Stars in pre-season hitouts this year. 

Stars coach Kiri Wills thought her side stacked up well. 

"They're not untouchable, we can compete and we did it really well," she said.

However, the Silver Ferns did struggle in last year's World Cup, finishing fourth in South Africa.

Netball legend Yvonne Willering believes that campaign showed New Zealand doesn't have enough depth.

"There are not enough players available at the moment for that Silver Ferns selection and even the last time [at the 2023 World Cup], I thought a couple of players were there who hadn't earnt the right," said Willering.

Wills believes creating more playing oppurtunities might be the answer.

"Even if we're not in a combined competition, what can we do to mix these teams up?" she added. "I think the fans really want to see that as well." 

The ANZ Premiership begins on Saturday, with Bay of Plenty Magic hosting the Mystics in Hamilton at 4pm.