Netball NZ draw line at one Australian coach

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:01 23/05/2013
Vicki Wilson
MICHAEL BRADLEY/Fairfax NZ
TRAVEL TROUBLES: Silver Ferns assistant coach Vicki Wilson.

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Netball New Zealand were happy to appoint an Australian as Silver Ferns assistant coach, but won't allow their franchises to do similar.

Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic coach Noeline Taurua sounds like she would've got the job, had she sought it. When she didn't, NNZ were left with with no suitable candidates and shoulder-tapped former Australian captain Vicki Wilson.

NNZ chief executive Raelene Castle said she badly wanted a New Zealander for the assistant coach role, with Wilson appointed out of necessity.

"Noeline Taurua was obviously the very strongly preferred candidate for us and had been through the programme previously [but] she made herself unavailable and decided that she didn't want to apply. That meant we needed to look right across the options and ended up with Vicki," Castle said.

Taurua has said many times that she prefers to call her own shots, rather than work for others, and, along with Janine Southby and Debbie Fuller, remains one of the likely candidates to succeed head coach Waimarama Taumaunu in the future, Castle said.

The chief executive added that Wilson would bring a lot to the Silver Ferns until then. However, she will not entertain the idea of franchises having an Australian coach of their own.

"The two things are separate. What we've done in the Silver Ferns' environment is one thing and, yes, you could argue that we've now set a precedent around the assistant coach, but certainly there is no precedent around the ANZ Championship coach and that continues to need to be a New Zealand-developed coach because that is the pathway," said Castle.

"If you allow Australians into the ANZ Championship level then you're even less likely to develop Silver Ferns head coaches."

It's hard to see how hiring Wilson helps groom New Zealanders for this nation's top job, but Castle was adamant that this was a situation in which there was justification for a foreign coach.

NNZ also allows Australians to play for New Zealand franchises as imports, but won't return the favour. There are three this year, plus the Southern Steel's Courtney Tairi who is eligible for the Silver Ferns because of New Zealand parents, with full internationals Caitlin Thwaites and Julie Corletto among them.

Thwaites, who is in her third season at the Central Pulse, made her debut last year, while Corletto is a Diamonds regular who moved over to be with her husband - New Zealand Breakers guard Daryl Corletto.

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NNZ policy is that no player can represent the Silver Ferns if they are on the books at an Australian franchise and that isn't going to change, Castle said.

Even if, in a trans-Tasman competition, New Zealand and Australian players should surely be able to ply their trade wherever they like and leave the plethora of English and Jamaican players to come into the league as imports?

"No, it's no different from the rugby discussion about why you have to play in New Zealand to be an All Black. Because the day they open it up, players wouldn't play in the Super 15. It's the same discussion for us," Castle said.

"If our top seven Silver Ferns ended up playing in Australian franchises that wouldn't be a very good scenario for our commercial arrangements and the strength of our five franchises."

- The Dominion Post

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