Southern Steel to stick with Janine Southby

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 14/05/2014
Janine Southby
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
STAYING ON: Janine Southby, centre, gives instructions to her players as they take a breather.

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Janine Southby is likely to return as coach of the Southern Steel for a fourth season in 2015.

The Dunedin-based Southby is close to re-signing with the franchise, with talks all but completed, chief executive Sue Clarke confirmed this week.

The franchise is confident Southby is taking the team in the right direction.

"It takes time to re-build a team. It takes time to build confidence in your players - that they actually can do it, like [Monday night] against the Magic. She's doing very well in that space."

It is understood the Steel had initially planned to advertise the coaching job on a three-year rotation to avoid the messy break-up which surrounded long-serving coach Robyn Broughton's departure but Southby's progress had made that unnecessary.

Southby was brought in as the replacement for Broughton, initially co-coaching the team with Natalie Avellino in 2012.

The team won two games only that season, avoiding the wooden spoon on goal differential ahead of the Tactix.

Last year Southby was promoted to head coach, with Avellino initially taking an assistant role.

That relationship was later deemed untenable by the Steel board and Avellino was let go, with Reinga Te Huia taking over as assistant coach.

The team, spearheaded by competition MVP Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, won six games and finished sixth.

With two games remaining this season, and with a bye this weekend, the Steel have won five games - including their first victory on Australian soil - to sit sixth in the 10 team competition.

"Anyone will say, it's a tough job. You are with those players nearly eight months of the year. You know everything about them and I admire the ANZ Championship coaches," Clarke said.

"I was with [New Zealand coach] Wai Taumaunu late last week and she said she could never be a franchise coach, it's just so hard. The ANZ player has to keep peaking, where as the Silver Fern is being trained and prepared for the Constellation Cup, which is a short peak and the Commonwealth Games, which is also a tight time period."

Southby, who is also the New Zealand under-21 coach was particularly happy with the development shown by some of her young charges in Monday's win over the Magic and what that could mean for next season.

"They've learnt what we need to do to win games. It's taken us a bit to get there but now it's about forging ahead," she said.

"We may be out of contention but it's about finishing with pride and we've still got the potential, if we win the last two, to finish better than last year, which is what the aim is.

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"I just think the connections and the confidence in the attacking perspective has been fantastic. What you are seeing out there from those young defenders is pretty good [too]."

The Steel have not started talking with their own players about next season, with only Jhaniele Fowler-Reid contracted beyond this year, or the other members of the management group.

"As part of the player contracting, we are required to have our coach in place for 2015 so that they know who they are going to be playing under," Clarke said.

Franchises can open discussions with players outside their own teams after the grand final and have their contracted players finalised by August 22.

- Stuff

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