Coaches slam overseas appointments

Former Silver Fern Noeline Taurua fears the hiring of another Australian at a Kiwi netball franchise will signal the "beginning of the end" for aspiring New Zealand coaches.

With Sue Hawkins taking over as coach of the Tactix, two of New Zealand's five professional teams are guided by Australians.

Julie Fitzgerald is coaching the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic, leading them to the preliminary final in her first season in the job this year.

The Silver Ferns also have an Australian assistant coach in Vicki Wilson.

Ex-Magic coach Taurua, who is the only New Zealand coach to win the trans-Tasman netball league title, in 2012, believed a dangerous precedent had been set.

"I think it's the beginning of the end unless we shake ourselves up and look strategically as to where we are going as a pool of coaches and Netball New Zealand as franchises," Taurua said.

"At the moment, it's a free for all and everyone is worried about their own back step."

A difficult situation exists. In the high stakes trans-Tasman Netball League environment, teams are judged on success. Franchises want the best possible coach available, regardless of where they come from.

Former Silver Fern and Canterbury netball coach Marg Foster weighed in on the debate. Foster, who applied for the Tactix job, felt New Zealand netball's identity and unique style of play was under threat.

Taurua was concerned where the next New Zealand Silver Fern mentor would come from if foreign-based coaches kept gaining franchise jobs. "There's a lot of tentacles that's going to come off this decision. For the bigger picture of New Zealand netball, I don't think it's of benefit to us."

She was worried that talented, emerging Kiwi coaches would be reluctant to apply for franchise positions in the future.

Last week, Netball New Zealand chief executive Hilary Poole indicated that the country's coaching stocks were so limited, Australians would have to fill the bulk of the positions at New Zealand franchises. The next Silver Ferns coach would also likely be an Australian.

Taurua said she was "disappointed" and "saddened" by Poole's comments.

What annoyed her most was Kiwi coaches, who were capable of coaching at franchise-level, were being snubbed. "It's just a shame there's another opportunity that's gone where a New Zealand coach can't get a foot in. That's probably one of the saddest things that we can't support our own. We have to go overseas to do it."

Foster slammed the decision to go with Hawkins over Canterbury's Julie Seymour, who had been assistant coach of the Tactix for five seasons. Seymour was part of the New Zealand Netball coaching framework, being assistant coach of the national secondary schools side the past two years.

Taurua and Foster believed Seymour would have thrived if surrounded with the right people and structures.

Foster described it as a "slap in the face" for New Zealand-based coaches.

"You don't see this happening in New Zealand rugby franchises," Foster said. "If we didn't have the quality of calibre coaches in New Zealand, go and look outside of New Zealand. But not when we've got [people] that could have taken the role. It's really disappointing."

Taurua said Netball New Zealand needed to do a far better job supporting promising coaches as they made their way into the elite ranks.

The step from representative netball to the trans-Tasman competition was a massive one for players, but also for coaches, she said.

"Underneath [elite netball], it's really struggling. There needs to be a concerted effort by everyone.

"Young coaches need support and guidance and that's where we're lacking at the moment." Fairfax NZ

Manawatu Standard