'Dog eat dog' for deals in new top flight - Jones

Nia Jones passes the ball for Cardiff Dragons against Team Bath
Nia Jones is captain of Cardiff Dragons and Welsh Feathers [Huw Evans Agency]

Cardiff Dragons captain Nia Jones says the reduced number of teams in the Netball Super League (NSL) has created a "dog-eat-dog" environment for contracts.

From next season, the NSL will consist of just eight teams instead of 10, with the aim to create a competitive and professional league.

The Dragons finished off their season with a 58-41 win over Team Bath who, despite having won more NSL titles than any other team, are one of the franchises to miss out on the relaunched competition.

"Our franchise is continuing, which is brilliant for Cardiff and for Wales, but we are all hoping to secure contracts, so it's a free-for-all after the grand final," Jones told BBC Sport Wales.

"Fingers crossed this group can stay together because as you saw today, we have huge potential.

"We all had something to play for collectively - to represent the badge - but also individually, people are playing for contracts, it's pretty dog eat dog.

"It's going from 120 paid places to 80, which is going to be great for the quality of competition but some players are going to miss out - that's top-flight sport and we have to deal with that."

Cardiff finish the NSL season in eighth place, having won six of their 18 games this season and drawing two more.

That tally was far behind the likes of Manchester Thunder and London Pulse, but it marked a first season since 2019 when the Dragons did not finish in the bottom two.

The quality on the court and the professionalism off it have increased this season, with the side on the up as they go into the new NSL.

"The season as a whole has been a mixed bag, we've had some really good results and a couple which have got away from us," said Jones.

"There have been games where we have played above ourselves and then games that have slipped away and we've rued missed opportunities.

"It was a fantastic way for us to finish, we couldn't have wished for a better performance here in Cardiff, it was an amazing crowd.

"Hopefully it is the start of something special.

"To think about how far this club has come from when I first played here 10 years ago, to be packing out the Utilita Arena in Cardiff is amazing."

Jones spent the majority of Cardiff's final home game matched up with friend and Welsh Feathers team-mate Bethan Dyke.

Jones said that her thoughts, and those of the rest of the Dragons players, were with their Team Bath opponents despite the rivalry on the court over the years.

"Our emotion at the end of the game was for Team Bath and the other teams who have missed out going forward," added Jones.

"We are hugely privileged that we were the last team to play them here today.

"They are such an iconic club. They are like the Manchester United of the Premier League - that's the equivalent of what Team Bath are to the Super League.

"I wish all those players, in whatever they do next, all the best."