Netballers face gruelling schedule due to Covid backlog

New Zealand's top netballers are preparing for a gruelling final stretch in the ANZ Premiership as they try and make up games lost or postponed during lockdowns earlier in the season.

Here's just a small insight into what lies ahead:

For the Northern Stars it's "Hamilton to Wellington, two games in two days," says shooter Jamie Hume.

For the Southern Steel, "Christchurch first, come home, get to Rotorua, come home and then play another two games," says coach Reinga Bloxham.

It's tiring just thinking about it. That's four games in just eight days for the Steel but it's a challenge they're up for especially if they want to push for a finals spot.

"I'm probably going to die I just know it... I don't know who we're playing but who cares just go out and win." says Te Huinga Reo Selby Rickit.

The stakes are all too high. All teams have a chance to bag important points. Not only that but they're also fighting for Commonwealth Games selection.

Unexpectedly, this load is almost the perfect preparation.

"Pinnacle event performance is seven or eight games in 10 days," says Netball New Zealand's Head of High Performance Keir Hansen.

"It is about back to back performance, it's about being able to deliver that performance in the big games at the very end, usually under fatigue."

The Premiership was already facing a condensed schedule due to the Birmingham Games coming up in just over two months, but add in Covid and postponed matches, this year's been the hardest yet.

"There's not many players playing consist, good netball," says Steel captain Shannon Saunders.

"That's something I'm struggling with is performing consistently I think I have a good game and then it's just trying to get solid performances out there."

It's crucial for Silver Ferns stars who also need to perform in fitness testing.

"There has been a very outspoken target in terms of a yoyo that you need to make, " says Stars captain Maia Wilson.

"I've had Covid and now I'm still worrying whether I'll be able to make that target but I'm very lucky the Silver Ferns support staff, they have been quite aware of it and we're trying to put plans in place."

The ultimate plan now for the Premiership teams is bag as many wins as possible in a competition that's coming down to survival of the fittest.