Courtney Bruce's award marred amid ugly Netball Australia drama

The end of year awards night was marred amid an ongoing pay dispute.

Courtney Bruce speaking and the Netball Australia awards night.
Courtney Bruce (pictured left) has finished off a stunning year after winning the 2023 Liz Ellis Diamond, but players snubbed the awards night amid an ugly feud with Netball Australia. (Images: Getty Images/Twitter)

Courtney Bruce has finished off a stunning year after winning the 2023 Liz Ellis Diamond award, but she received the recognition amid an ugly player snub against Netball Australia. The 29-year-old defender received the top gong - which she also collected in 2021 - at the Australian netball awards on Saturday night for her stellar domestic and international seasons with the West Coast Fever and the Diamonds.

Unfortunately, Bruce was presented the award with plenty of her fellow players boycotting the awards night. Bruce was contractually obligated to attend the awards as a Diamonds star, according to reports, but a number of players were not.

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And due to the ongoing dispute between the players association and Netball Australia over the collective bargaining agreement, players opted to snub the ceremony. England and Swifts star Helen Housby posted on social media before the event outlining her position.

"Personally took the decision not to attend tonight's event after receiving an invitation," she wrote. "We as a collective playing group remain strong and supportive of each other despite the challenging circumstances. We also fully support the Diamonds players who have a contractual obligation to be there this evening."

Sophie Garbin, Paige Hadley, Courtney Bruce and Sophie Dwyer applaud.
Sophie Garbin, Paige Hadley, Courtney Bruce and Sophie Dwyer playing for the Diamonds. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images) (Albert Perez via Getty Images)

The Australian Netball Players Association released a statement claiming the Diamonds players were attending because: "we are legally obligated to be present". The last collective playing agreement expired eight weeks ago, leaving Super Netball players in limbo.

Negotiations broke down again in October, which has left the situation ahead of next season in dire straights. Netball Australia and the Players Association can't come to an agreement over a revenue model, which has left many without pay. Players and fans of Super Netball called out the ridiculous drama, which marred the end of year awards night.

Courtney Bruce wins 2023 Liz Ellis Diamond award

West Coast Fever captain Bruce was instrumental role in helping the Diamonds re-stock their trophy cabinet over the past 12 months as defender of the series at the Netball Quad Series and in the triumphant Netball World Cup campaign.

Courtney Bruce speaks onstage.
Courtney Bruce (pictured) won the Liz Ellis Diamond award. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images) (Graham Denholm via Getty Images)

"It is absolutely crazy to win", Bruce said. "Not many people see the hard work that we put in behind the scenes to get to perform every day. "This award is so special considering the bunch of athletes currently playing in Australia. I am so grateful to spend the time I do with my teams and to treasure the memories on and off the court."

Adelaide Thunderbirds defender Shamera Sterling was named Super Netball player of the year. She topped the defensive table to achieve 118 deflections, 46 intercepts and 38 rebounds for the champions.

with AAP

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