Tactix to begin search for Gibbs' replacement

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2014
Leigh Gibbs
STACY SQUIRES/ Fairfax NZ
STEPPING DOWN: Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs will step away from the job after the trans-Tasman netball season.

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The Tactix will cast the net far and wide in their search for coach Leigh Gibbs' replacement and are not ruling out an Australian.

Gibbs yesterday announced she would step down as head coach at the end of the season after three years in charge.

She informed the players on Thursday night at training and said it was a decision she had been weighing up for a while.

Gibbs had planned to coach the side for only two years, but opted to return this season for a third campaign.

The former Silver Ferns coach and captain is also employed as Netball Mainland's high performance manager, a role she will continue in.

Gibbs said it had been tough at times to juggle both positions and was excited about putting greater energy into developing the next tier of talent.

Netball Mainland chief executive Brigit Hearn said they would begin advertising for Gibbs' replacement over the next few weeks.

They did not want to rush the process, but would also be wary of getting a successor in place with other franchises allowed to approach Tactix players after the grand final in late June.

When asked whether the franchise would consider an Australian coach for the first time, Hearn said they wanted the best person for the job.

"It's early days. We can't rule out any option . . . It's important to find a candidate who offers the most to the franchise and to our players in terms of development and fits the culture here as well."

During Gibbs' three years in charge, the Tactix have won five of their 36 games.

When Gibbs was appointed coach in May 2011, she spoke about her ambition to bring Canterbury netball back to the successful era of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, where it was seen as a stronghold for the sport.

The Tactix were unable to win consistently under her tutelage, but she believed progress had been made.

Youngsters like Zoe Walker, Jane Watson and Sophia Fenwick had benefited from increased court time over the past two years and had promising futures ahead of them.

Coaching the Tactix is one of the most challenging jobs in Australasian professional sport.

The Tactix lack the star power and depth, which many of the other sides in the competition possess.

Gibbs has worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the players.

She said the results did not reflect the commitment and hard work the team had shown in training.

"It's been disappointing because I know how much effort is going in and that's been from all the team management and players.

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"I can't talk highly enough around how well the team has worked at their team trainings. We haven't got it over the line, but who knows what's around the corner?"

Gibbs said there was no substitute for game time at the elite level.

Attracting high-calibre Silver Fern players to the Tactix has proved problematic following the 2011 earthquake and the team's poor historic winning record.

The Tactix retained nine players from last year's squad and had made major inroads with their attacking game this season - scoring 60 goals or more in three games.

Gibbs felt the growing pains the team had experienced would eventually pay dividends.

Hearn saluted Gibbs' contribution as coach and was pleased they would be able to retain her expertise in the high performance environment.

"She's hugely respected both in New Zealand and overseas for her coaching ability and work with emerging talent. The results, as such on the points table, are disappointing. What we have seen is the ongoing development of our younger players into that ability to play at the highest level."

- The Press

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