CBT season starts on Friday
The Commonwealth Bank Trophy kickes off its tenth anniversary season this week, with all opening round games to be played on Friday night at venues across Australia.
I'll be at the Melbourne Kestrels v Sydney Swifts game at the SNHC in what will be the first time I have seen any sort of elite netball live since watching seeing the gold medal (Australia v New Zealand) match at the Commonwealth Games in my role as a volunteer.
As usual, there are always plenty of questions at this time of the year as the teams and the state netball associations are busy training or preparing everything for what is a long season ahead of 14 games plus the finals series.
Let's not forget there are also some interational matches against New Zealand in both Sydney and Brisbane.
The question is... will the Melbourne Phoenix still be able to have that potency in goals now that Eloise Southby-Halbish has retired from playing?
In my opinion, I think that the Phoenix will still be able to maintain the forward potency because Cynna Kydd (nee Neele) will pair with Sharelle McMahon and they have lined up together for Australia before, back in 2003 at the World Netball Championships.
With some exciting young talent such as Sophie O'Shea and Renae Hallinan, the Phoenix have some more than handy backup players should any of the established starting seven players be injured or unavailable due to representative duties.
Coach Julie Hoornweg is regarded as one of the best in the business and with the amount of preparation she does before each game, her players are considered by some to be the best coached players in the entire CBT competition.
Her ability to get her players to perform at the optimum level all the time means that she is almost virtually in the box seat when it comes to securing a second consecutive premiership, although a lot of it rests on whether the McMahon/Kydd combination will work effectively at this level.
Hoornweg's methods have been copied by other coaches, but only Hoornweg knows how to best use those with the playing group that she at her disposal.
The Phoenix should score a win in their premiership defence as they face off against traditional competition cellar dwellers the Queensland Firebirds who have a new coach in Australian netball legend Vicki Wilson.
But with Wilson taking over from Brenda Scherian as coach, anything is possible and many experts are tipping that the Firebirds will be the big improvers for season 2006.