NETBALL Australia management have visited Newcastle Entertainment Centre to inspect and approve the playing surface before Wednesday night’s Quad Series Test match against England.
Ten days ago, a pre-season basketball clash between Andrew Bogut’s Sydney Kings and the Illawarra Hawks was embarrasingly abandoned at the 11th hour when it was ruled to be too slippery and dangerous for play, leaving the thousands of spectators in attendance fuming.
In a costly exercise, all tickets sold to the game were refunded.
According to a Netball Australia spokesperson, team officials and the match delegate requested a court inspection on Monday and were left satisfied that it was fit for play.
Entertainment Centre general manager Chris Blanch told the Newcastle Herald it remained a mystery exactly what had adversely affected the flooring before the basketball trial but the problem was “relatively minor” and easily fixed.
“The manufacturers came down and inspected the flooring,” Blanch said.
“They identified something that they said was not major, and recommended a light sanding and a re-coat.
“It’s like a brand-new floor now, and the Netball Australia representatives were more than happy with it when they inspected it this morning.”
Blanch said the flooring breaks down into pieces of two metres by one metre and is stacked in storage when not in use.
“We last used it in April for the Highland dancing championships,” he said. “They used it and had no issues. The last time it was used for a sporting event was when they Sydney Swifts played [netball] here in June, 2016.”
A sell-out crowd of 4500 will attend the first netball Test match staged in Newcastle since the Diamonds beat South Africa 63-31 in October, 2012.
Adding to the occasion, it will be the first time Australia and England have met since the Roses scored a memorable 52-51 boilover to claim the gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, in April.
Australia opened their Quad Series campaign with a 61-44 win against South Africa in Auckland on the weekend, in which goal shooter Caitlin Bassett found the net 31 times from 34 attempts.
England also started in confident fashion, beating New Zealand 52-39.
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