Sue Hawkins determined to turn Tactix around
New Tactix coach Sue Hawkins insists she is not feeling any extra pressure about being the first Australian to guide the side.
The decision to opt for Hawkins over Canterbury netball darling Julie Seymour will have angered some supporters in the region.
Two of New Zealand's five trans-Tasman netball league franchises are now coached by Australians, with Julie Fitzgerald at the helm of the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic.
The Press understands another Australian has also signed for the franchise with 1.88m defender Demelza McCloud filling the second import slot. McCloud, 33, has played nine tests for her country, and was an inaugural Tactix member in 2008.
Canterbury-raised shooter-midcourter Gemma Hazeldine is expected to return home after a season with the Central Pulse.
Tactix boss Brigit Hearn said Hawkins' international and domestic head coaching experience, combined with her high performance background, had been a major drawcard.
Hawkins, whose coaching resume includes stints with the England national team and the Auckland Diamonds, was not concerned about any negative reaction. She was ready to embrace the challenge and prove the doubters wrong.
"You look at being the best person for the position. Whether I'm black, white, or Australian or English, I'm lucky enough to be able to have that opportunity," she said.
Hawkins, who has been head coach of the New South Wales Institute of the Sport netball programme, said the task of turning around the Tactix franchise held appeal. The chance to be a coach in the trans-Tasman netball league for the first time was also a strong lure.
The Tactix have been the whipping girls of the competition over the past five years, winning just seven of 65 games.
Hawkins had studied the team's performances closely and believed there was plenty of promise in their squad.
"I certainly know the Tactix are on the brink of moving forward and doing something special. They've been under the wings of [former coach] Leigh [Gibbs] and she's set up a good programme."
Hawkins is on a two-year contract and will live in Christchurch. She will be based in the city from mid-October.
Hearn said it was too early to decide upon potential support staff and an assistant coach.
Hawkins was a shooter in her playing days and was excited about mentoring Malawi international Mwai Kumwenda, Bailey Mes and Anna Thompson.
It is the defensive side of their game, which has plagued the Tactix the most. Hawkins would be looking to address the problem straight away.
"Defence is something we'll be working on from the word 'go'. We'll be setting the standard from the attack end down.
"We definitely don't want to lose the New Zealand zone [defence]. I want to make sure we've got a lot of variety and blend as well."
AT A GLANCE
Sue Hawkins resume
- Head netball coach with New South Wales Institute of Sport 2011-2014 (including specialist coach of the NSW Swifts trans-Tasman netball league team 2012).
- National coach of England 2008-2011 (placed third 2011 world championships).
- Head coach Auckland Diamonds 2004-2007.
- Head coach Queensland Firebirds 1999-2003.
- High performance manager for Australian Netball and senior netball coach with the Australian Institute of Sport.
- Current member of the International Netball Federation coaching advisory panel
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