Suncorp Super Netball premiership winner Tippah Dwan has returned to the Queensland Firebirds after a two-year stint with the Adelaide Thunderbirds.
Dwan moves back to her former club to be closer with her partner, Josh Dunkley, who is a gun AFL midfielder for the Brisbane Lions.
Dwan will also reunite with Dunkley’s sister, Lara, who is a star at the Firebirds.
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The sporting power couple have maintained a long distance relationship through Dwan’s multi-state career, as well as that of Dunkley, who moved north to Brisbane after seven years in Melbourne with the Western Bulldogs.
While weighing up his future at the end of 2022, Dunkley had interest from Port Adelaide, with obvious links to Dwan at the Thunderbirds, but chose the Lions instead, where he became a key player in their grand final year in 2023.
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Dwan moves north having just won a premiership with the Thunderbirds.
“We were joking about it yesterday with him,” Dwan said after her move was confirmed.
“Hopefully the Lions can do one better and we can get two Queensland teams in the granny.”
Josh Dunkley and girlfriend Tippah Dwan arrive ahead of the 2023 Brownlow Medal. Credit: Albert Perez/AFL Photos/via Getty Images
A whopping eighty players are on the market ahead of next season, which will return in April, confirmation of that coming just two days after the long-running dispute between the sport’s elite players and its national governing body came to an end.
The 2024 campaign gets underway on Saturday, April 13 with the Giants taking on West Coast Fever, before Dwan meets her former side when reigning premiers the Thunderbirds begin their title defence against the Firebirds.
New team the Melbourne Mavericks will play their first-ever league match against city rivals the Vixens the following Sunday, before Sunshine Coast Lightning close out the opening round against the NSW Swifts.
Adelaide Thunderbirds will get their Super Netball title defence under way against the Firebirds. Credit: AAP
With decorated coach and former England star Tracey Neville at the helm, the Mavericks have less than four months to build a squad from scratch.
Players across the league have not been paid since September and were unable to sign new contracts until Wednesday, when a new three-year collective player agreement was locked in the wake of the resignation of Netball Australia chief executive Kelly Ryan.
Under the new deal, players will receive an immediate 11 per cent wage rise, back-dated to October 1, with the average salary rising to $89,221.
Netball Australia and the players will also enter into a landmark sponsorship revenue sharing partnership as part of the deal.
The 14-round home-and-away season will be followed by a three-week finals series starting on July 20.
The grand final will be held on Saturday, August 3 at Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
“With some of the largest crowds to date in the 2023 season, we are thrilled to announce a fixture that will build on that success and break even more records in 2024,” Netball Australia spokesperson Adam Richardson said in a statement.
“We are also excited to see how the introduction of the Super Netball League’s newest team, the Melbourne Mavericks, will shake things up and continue to build in the history of the world’s best netball league.”
A 2023 grand final rematch will take place in Round 7, with the Thunderbirds hosting the NSW Swifts at their new home, the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
First Nations Round will be held across two weeks — to coincide with National Reconciliation Week in Round 7 and NAIDOC Week in Round 13.
Inclusion Round, introduced in 2023 to encourage clubs to champion diversity, will take place in Round 4.
– With AAP