Competition to test south-west teams’ strength

PORTLAND netballers will learn about the demands of the Hampden league when they contest the Western Region State League.

Portland Netball Association has entered a 17 and under side in the Netball Victoria (NV)-run competition, starting on January 17.

The entry comes on the back of Portland Football Netball Club crossing from the Western Border league to the Hampden league.

Portland is one of eight teams confirmed for the WRSL 17 and under grade. Four are likely to have Hampden league players.

The WRSL open grade has also attracted eight teams.

There will be seven regular-season rounds and three weeks of finals at Warrnambool Stadium. Grand finals are on March 28.

Matches are on Thursday nights, although Camperdown will take on Colac at both open and 17 and under level at Camperdown on a Sunday, potentially March 3.

NV competitions co-ordinator Alex Poulton said she was rapt with the interest in the WRSL, despite a handful of withdrawals.

“The region has really embraced regional state league. The fact they entered in the first place is testament to the competition down there,” she said.

“Hopefully, it will keep growing and those teams will continue to enter.” Poulton said the WRSL and the Eastern Region State League at Churchill were the strongest of the regional state league competitions.

She said NV would send high-profile coaches to Warrnambool to run a coach mentoring program, while talent scouts would make the trip “as many times as possible”.

“They (the players) get that it’s not a pre-season competition,” she said.

“Obviously it’s a nice side affect, but they really understand that it’s that next level of elite competition.  They really want to push netball in the region.

“It’s a great benefit for them having a pre-season competition, but it’s got added extras from our perspective. And they don’t have the attitude it’s a pre-season competition, you can see it on the court.”

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