Vixens win Judd-like battle for Sharelle McMahonKatie Peart
October 24, 2007 12:00amSharelle McMahon yesterday made it well known where her allegiances lie after rejecting offers from several clubs. Picture: Norm Oorloff
CHAMPION netballer Sharelle McMahon was the subject of a Chris Judd-like bidding war before she committed to the Melbourne Vixens.
The Vixens is the new Victorian team in next year's trans-Tasman competition.
Her manager, leading AFL agent, Michael Quinlan, said interest in securing McMahon for the first ANZ Championship was reminiscent of AFL trading.
"I've seen football-like interest from clubs where they've gone after Sharelle to secure her services," he said.
Quinlan said the interest included approaches from New Zealand teams. Five Australian and five New Zealand teams will contest next year's ANZ Championship.
"I've had many conversations with teams around Australia and even teams from New Zealand," Quinlan said.
"It's a sign that netball has gone to a new level.
"Really, clubs would be derelict if they didn't sound out Sharelle McMahon. She's the best in the competition."
McMahon yesterday became the first high-profile player to commit to the Melbourne Vixens, along with rising stars Madison Browne and Renae Hallinan.
As revealed in Monday's Herald Sun, Netball Victoria yesterday announced Melbourne Vixens as the name of the Victorian team. The players will wear navy, green and crimson.
Australian vice-captain McMahon has given a verbal commitment to play for the Vixens, as player contracts are not ready to sign.
"At the end of the day, my heart lies in Victoria," she said.
"It was a big blow to lose Phoenix, but it is also an exciting time for netball.
"Netball here has done a lot for me and I'd like to think I've done a bit for netball in Victoria, too.
"Some of the other opportunities provided different things. Here we've got a very strong culture of success . . . I've been a part of that culture and I'm really happy to be able to continue that."
The absence of any player contracts, now being negotiated by Netball Australia and the Australian Netball Players Association, means the talent-laden Melbourne Vixens, (created from two teams Melbourne Phoenix and Melbourne Kestrels), is a target for recruiting raids.
Vixens coach Julie Hoornweg said 11 of her 12 players had given her a commitment to the team, but she was still nervous she may have players poached from under her nose.
"There's been a few offers to our players," she said.
"They're the best in the country, the best in the world so we're not surprised.
"The term in England is gazumping -- you can have a house bought and then someone gazumps you," she said.
"When the phone rings you think, oh, I hope this is good news.
"We've met with the athletes face-to-face and they just love Victoria.
"If all the right things are in place, they want to stay. They don't want to go elsewhere."
Netball Australia chief executive Kate Palmer said player contracts were unavailable because New Zealand had entered into a collective bargaining process and their players were seeking an increase on the payment pool of $289,000 a team.
"There's no hold-ups in Australia," she said.
"It's just a matter of waiting for New Zealand to finish their negotiations.
"We don't want New Zealand athletes to have better conditions than the Australian athletes.
"Their (New Zealand) association has foundations in the cricket association and their expectations seem to be higher (in terms of money) than perhaps we're used to."
The Melbourne Vixens will make their debut in the ANZ Championship against Wellington, at Palmerston North on April 6.