Collegial but definitely not too cosy, is how Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu defines her relationship with this year's auditioning assistants.
Noeline Taurua, Gail Parata, Janine Southby and Debbie Fuller will all have stints by Taumaunu's side during theSilver and FastNet Ferns' international campaigns.
Each were coached by Taumaunu during their playing days, with Taurua and Parata also having been her team-mates.
It's wonderful for the PIC club that four of the five women played for, and Wellington netball in general, but a heck of a concentration of intellectual property.
Taumaunu didn't like the term disciples to describe the quartet, but did concede they were all friends of hers.
"I coached them, that's as much as I can say really," Taumaunu said yesterday.
"They would have learnt a lot of things that perhaps they still do and a lot of things that they decided they don't want to do, so I suspect it will be a mix. But you have to remember it's a little while ago as well.
"Noeline, Gail, Debbie and Janine have gone on and done a lot of coaching things that didn't involve me and learnt a great deal."
In anticipation of a fulltime assistant being appointed next year, Taumaunu decided to use this season as an opportunity to develop coaches from New Zealand's five trans-Tasman netball franchises.
Southby's co-coach at the Southern Steel, Australian Natalie Avellino, ruled herself out, while Leigh Gibbs from the Canterbury Tactix and the Central Pulse's Robyn Broughton weren't considered. Broughton and Gibbs have been Silver Ferns assistants in the past, with the latter also head coach at one time.
Both experienced campaigners, Taumaunu said this year's initiative would be wasted on people of their proven calibre.
Given that, Taumaunu was always aware that the remainder would be made up of her former charges, who she's sure will promote robust debate during their times in camp.
"Absolutely, I have great faith that these women will do that," a laughing Taumaunu said.
"Apart from Debbie, who's doing the FastNet with me, the other three are largely focused on the midcourt-shooting area and I'll be welcoming that input."
Meanwhile, Taumaunu predicts the trans-Tasman league will culminate in an all-New Zealand final.
The Northern Mystics are away to the Melbourne Vixens in tomorrow's major semifinal, with the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic hosting the Adelaide Thunderbirds on Monday in the minor one.
Taumaunu backs the Magic to win their game, narrowly, and qualify for a clash with the loser of tomorrow's match in next week's preliminary final.
"I would like to see the Mystics win, and I certainly think they have the ability, but that's a good team they're going over to play at home.
"But it's certainly do-able and if there's any team that could do it, it's the Mystics.
"So I'll go with both New Zealand teams [to win this week] and a New Zealand final," she said.
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