NSW Swifts will build new fan base: Wright

Sep 23, 2016 - 4:41 AM Coach Rob Wright admits the NSW Swifts could also lose their fanbase after losing their biggest stars to Australian netball's three new expansion sides.

But after pledging to rebuild the trans-Tasman era powerhouse from the bottom up, Wright believes it will ultimately be for the greater good.

Beaten grand finalists in the last two seasons, the Swifts were by far the hardest team hit by the feeding frenzy that followed netball's new collective bargaining agreement, which will see 80 players share a pool next year of almost $5.5 million.

They face a barren short-term future with the departures of Sharni Layton, Caitlin Thwaites (Collingwood), Kim Green and Susan Pettitt (Giants) and Stephanie Wood (Sunshine Coast Lightning).

The team's 2016 MVP, Kiwi Laura Langman, is also expected to join the Melbourne Storm-backed Lightning.

Wright concedes he's disappointed with the extent of the exodus, but far from disheartened.

"We could worry about what's happened but in reality it's pretty exciting," Wright told AAP.

"Over the last three years we've built something pretty special, I think, but obviously with the new comp, opportunities abounded.

"I don't think it's just us, there's a lot of teams looking very different and three new ones. I think it's great for netball.

"I'm hoping it means the fanbase continues to grow for the entire sport because to me, this is about making sure netball becomes the premier sport, really.

"The sport is bigger than any team."

Wright said it was impossible to deny any players seeking a late-career payday in a sport where salaries have been sub-par for so long.

"You're a long time retired," he said.

"I would never begrudge them the opportunity to earn money which I think has been long overdue in women's sport.

"I think it's fantastic this is probably the first time some of these superstars can earn some really big money."

The Swifts unveiled on Thursday a hugely depleted, youth-heavy roster for next year, with just four players from this season's squad staying on and only one Diamonds representative in Paige Hadley.

Abbey McCulloch, Amy Sommerville and Maddy Turner - all named in the recent Netball Australia emerging talent camp - have stuck around for another season.

The Swifts have also signed Trinidad & Tobago shooter Samantha Wallace, the reigning player of the season from the English Superleague, as well as rising English star Helen Housby and former Adelaide Thunderbirds pair Maddy Proud and Sarah Klau.

Wright reckons Wallace, 22, can become a "superstar" of the competition much like Queensland's Jamaican sensation Romelda Aiken.

"With the group we've got I truly believe we'll build a new fanbase," Wright said.

NSW Swifts: Paige Hadley, Helen Housby, Sarah Klau, Abbey McCulloch, Claire O'Brien, Maddy Proud, Amy Sommerville, Emma Tickner, Maddy Turner, Sammy Wallace.

Source: AAP

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