Wilkins is Steel assistant coach

Donn aWilkins has been appointed Southern Steel's assistant coach for next year's ANZ Championship.

In a surprise announcement yesterday, Wilkins, a former Silver Fern, Tall Fern, Sting player and current Christchurch Sirens captain, admitted she had decided against playing elite netball next year after this year's National Bank Cup.

However, her desire to maintain an involvement in the game _ and some pushing from interested parties _ had encouraged her to apply for the assistant coach position.

"I knew I had a lot to offer ... I have been down here for 10 years as a player and have worked under (head Southern Steel coach) Robyn (Broughton). (I know) what she wants to achieve, I know her philosophies, what she wants out of her players," Wilkins said. "It will be totally new to me but if I can offer something, that's what I'm there to do. I'm really looking forward to it." Wilkins admitted she did not have a lot of coaching experience _ she was Southland's assistant coach during last year's national championships but ended up in more of a playing role -- but she was confident her playing experience would be an asset.

While starting a family was on the Wilkins' agenda some time down the track, she said that had no bearing at all on her decision not to play elite netball next year.

Broughton said she was looking forward to working with Wilkins in a different capacity.

"There's definitely potential there. She's always taken a big interest in coaching and she brings a passion and a loyalty to it. I'm sure that it's a good decision," she said.

Wilkins is midway through a season with the Sirens basketball team, where she has been in outstanding form playing in the Australian Women's National Basketball League. Depending on the team's success rate the season could end on February 17, when Wilkins would join Southern Steel.

Southern Steel chief executive Julie Paterson said she was thrilled with the new appointment.

"When people that are really, really talented in the game decide to give up and just walk away, you lose all that experience so I'm really pleased that Donna has chosen to look at coaching as a way for her to stay involved," she said.


The Southland Times