The NSW Swifts and Giants Netball will play out a Grand Final rematch in Round 1 of the 2022 SSN season. (Photo: GIANTS Netball)

With the introduction of new Saturday time slots and prominent rivalry matches galore, we've taken a closer look at the 2022 SSN Fixture.

The 2022 Suncorp Super Netball fixture has been released, and is full of both familiar and new sights.

Every team is once again playing every other team home and away, playing 14 games across 12 weekends before a three week finals series. The season begins on Saturday, March 26 and concludes with the Grand Final on Saturday, July 2.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds and Collingwood Magpies kick off the season at Netball SA Stadium, with the Magpies also closing the home and away season with a Melbourne derby against the Vixens at John Cain Arena.

The Inner Sanctum breaks down the 2022 SSN fixture.

SSN 2022 Fixture: What’s new?

Mid-week fixtures became a necessity in 2020 and 2021, with games needing to be played to get the season completed as quickly as possible in COVID-affected circumstances.

But in 2022, mid-week matches will be a regular staple. Round 4 and Round 10 will be full mid-week rounds, with every team playing three games in the span of six, seven or eight days twice.

These fixtures were the source of both criticism and praise in the past two seasons, with many pointing to increased injuries late in the season as players became fatigued. This will once again test the depth of every squad in the competition.

With the move from Channel 9 to FOX Sports, this has slightly changed how SSN games will be broadcasted.

Typically regulation rounds in 2021 saw one game broadcast free-to-air on Saturday and Sunday, with the other being available on the Netball Live pass.

With the FOX/Kayo broadcast deal, only Sunday games will be available for free broadcasting as a Kayo Freebie. In the mid-week rounds, the Tuesday games will be on Freebies. All finals will also be available as Freebies.

This leads to a little bit of inequality in the broadcasting schedule. This is how many times each team appears in a Freebies match:

Adelaide Thunderbirds77
Collingwood Magpies77
Giants Netball77
Melbourne Vixens59
NSW Swifts68
Queensland Firebirds77
Sunshine Coast Lightning68
West Coast Fever113

Non-paying Vixens fans will only be able to watch five games for free, while Fever fans receive 11 games for free. This is the only major disparity in the broadcast schedule, with the majority of teams receiving an even split.

The other big change comes in the form of the Saturday time slots. Games on Saturday will now start at their earliest at 5PM (AEDT/AEST) to give local netball coaches, players, volunteers and parents space to attend both local and professional matches.

Executive General Manager at the SSN, Adam Richardson spoke on the decision.

“One of the key criteria that we went with into our negotiations with FOX is to make sure we’re making our game as accessible as possible, and understanding accessibility on multiple fronts,” he said.

“Attendance is a critical one. We did listen [to the fans], we’ve heard and we responded. The introduction of the new 5PM and 7PM time slot on a Saturday is a real testament to that.”

Here is a breakdown of how often each team features in the prime time (Saturday night) time slot, compared to every other slot:

Prime timeSaturday afternoon/eveningSundayMondayTuesdayWednesday
Adelaide Thunderbirds417002
Collingwood Magpies227102
Giants Netball426011
Melbourne Vixens443120
NSW Swifts345011
Queensland Firebirds246011
Sunshine Coast Lightning345011
West Coast Fever219020

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With taking on the Saturday night slot, the SSN will be going head-to-head with the likes of the AFL and NRL for both TV space and attendance.

As the league continues to grow alongside the build-up towards the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, building accessibility to the SSN was a focus.

“We are… unbelievably proud, but also confident in our product,” Richardson said.

“We believe it can stand up under any scrutiny. We’ve got the best league in the world, we attract the best players in the world, we’re the premier, most-watched female sport in this country. We should not be concerned at all how we position that in the market.

“We’re up for that challenge and up for that opportunity. It means that quintessentially we’re making the product more available to our fans, and we need to make sure that sits at the heart of what we do.”

When the season kicks off on March 26, it will be competing with the second round of the AFL season, AFLW finals, the third round of the NRL season, and the tail end of the A-Leagues and NBL seasons.

The addition of mid-week matches aims to capitalise on the lack of games on those days across those sports.

“The research did tell us that [mid-week fixtures were] incredibly well-received,” Richardson said.

“We are cognisant that it was a point in time that was a bit of an outlier, but we wanted to reflect that. We did see an overwhelming support about its positioning… it introduces the sport to a broader fanbase.

“It does have clear air, it does have an opportunity… there is a deficiency of mid-week content in this country, so we are confident it the opportunity it presents.”

Team-by-team highlights

We’ve taken a look at the highlights of each team’s individual fixtures.

Adelaide Thunderbirds: The Thunderbirds have one of the best opportunities to start their season strong, with four home games straight. They won’t have to leave South Australia for nearly a month, before they take on the Queensland Firebirds in Round 5. New shooter Tippah Dwan will face her old side for the first time in familiar territory. While the Thunderbirds don’t have a prime time slot until Round 6 against the Vixens, they’ll play three in a row including that one.

Collingwood Magpies: Collingwood will keep its Tasmanian links strong again in 2022, playing back-to-back games in Hobart and Launceston against the Firebirds and Giants. They’ll face a tough travel schedule mid-year, only playing in Melbourne once between Rounds 5 and 11. Sophie Garbin will take on former side the NSW Swifts in Round 3, while the Melbourne derbies will take place in Sunday and Monday time slots. The Pies will play one match at the State Netball Centre, hosting the Thunderbirds.

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Giants Netball: A blockbuster Grand Final rematch for Lauren Moore and the Giants against the Swifts will no doubt sell out Ken Rosewall Arena in Round 1, and is the first prime time match of the season. From Rounds 4 to 9, the Giants will play at home five times, which includes their first mid-week game against the Firebirds. Their other mid-week fixture is almost the exact opposite, having to fly to both Tasmania and WA in four days to take on Collingwood and the West Coast Fever.

Melbourne Vixens: Aside from their lack of free to watch games, the Vixens have possibly the most balanced fixture of any team this season. They have four prime time games, four Saturday evening games, three Sunday, two Tuesday, and one Monday. They’ll open the season with two away trips against the Firebirds and reigning premiers the Swifts, but will then play five of their next six games at home. It will be a short and sharp turn around with three days between away trips to NSW to take on the Giants and WA against the Fever, but the last month will once again see just one game away from Melbourne.

NSW Swifts: The reigning premiers will learn to love Saturdays, playing the equal second most games at the start of the weekend in 2022. After the show-stopping Grand Final rematch in Round 1 where they’ll unveil their championship trophy, the Swifts will host the Vixens in Round 2, with Allie Smith welcoming her old side to her new home at Ken Rosewall Arena. Three games at home to start the season will set up their title defence nicely, but they’ll also stay on the road for three weeks across Rounds 10 to 12, including two trips to Melbourne.

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Queensland Firebirds: The Firebirds open their season with a bang, taking on the Vixens at home before travelling up the highway for the first Battle of the Bruce against rivals Sunshine Coast. Across Rounds 8 to 10 they’ll travel interstate three times in 11 days, visiting the Vixens in Melbourne, Magpies in Hobart, and Thunderbirds in Adelaide. They’ll play host to Rudi Ellis and the Fever in Round 3, and cap off their season against the reigning premiers in NSW.

Sunshine Coast Lightning: It will be a tough first month on the road for the Lightning, travelling to WA, SA and Victoria across three of their first four matches. This includes taking on the Pies after the Thunderbirds off a three day break. They host the first Battle of the Bruce, returning in Round 11 to cap off five games straight in Queensland. Hosting the Giants, Thunderbirds, Fever and Swifts all at home across the middle section of the year, if the Lightning want to play finals again they’ve got their destiny in their hands.

West Coast Fever: The Fever and Sundays seem to be a match made in heaven, playing nine games at the end of the weekend and thus receiving the most games that are free to watch. They start the year with a home game against the Lightning, before heading on the road for five away games of their next six. All of the Fever’s home games are back loaded, only travelling twice after April. In a quirk of fixturing, they’ll play the Vixens in both their home and away fixtures on a Tuesday night, with the first falling at 4PM on the first week of school holidays.

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