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Noongar netballer Donnell Wallam proved to be innocent party behind Gina Rinehart's withdrawal of multi-million dollar Netball Australia sponsorship offer

Andrew Mathieson -

Desperate out-of-pocket Super netballers have revealed Donnell Wallam was wrongly blamed for Netball Australia losing out on a lucrative sponsorship deal.

The rising Indigenous face of the game has copped much of the public backlash across the past 13 months for mining magnate Gina Rinehart pulling out from a commitment to support the Australia Diamonds national team.

The initial agreed terms of the financial deal was over four years until the end of 2026 season that was worth about $15 million.

Wallam had reportedly been uncomfortable – while on her Test debut - about wearing the Hancock Prospecting name, emblazoned all across the team's uniform, after raising ethical concerns of the negative impact it would have on First Nations people.

The move that was fully supported by Wallam's non-Indigenous teammates had come after Rinehart's father, the late Lang Hancock, expressed controversial remarks over Indigenous land rights that has been historically linked to the company for more than 40 years.

Rinehart had also refused a request to denounce Hancock's further remarks over sterilisation would "solve the Aboriginal problem".

But Australian Netball Players Association president Jo Weston has come out publicly to clarify their position on the back off a spiteful fallout between Netball Australia and its Super Netball players that have impacted their ongoing pay dispute.

She said one of Netball Australia's senior officials had advised the Test players at the time not to wear the sponsorship logos against England.

The unnamed official, who still has never come forward to accept responsibility and the consequences that Wallam had to endure of torment from the sponsorship deal falling on the shooter's broad shoulders, told the Diamonds they had to "stand as one" in her debut appearance.

"The players, absolutely, did not turn their back on this sponsorship (deal), as is the popular misconception," Weston said.

The advice eventually ended in Rinehart tearing up her company's deal with Netball Australia, who have said nothing to suggest it was not Wallam's fault since, other than to say they were disappointed with the Hancock Prospecting's decision to renege.

Weston had also said while Wallam did not approve of wearing the sponsors name, the Noongar woman would have worn the logo "if she had to".

The Players Association is now taking firm aim at Netball Australia for "reneging on an agreement" between the two parties for the Diamonds to wear the controversial logo against not only England but also New Zealand, and a commitment to work with Hancock Prospecting to ensure netball "did not lose a partner in the game".

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