A lack of recent top level coaching experience didn't paint Margaret Forsyth as the leading contender for the Magic assistant coach role, but somehow she has landed it.
The Former Silver Fern and current national selector was yesterday confirmed as second in charge to Julie Fitzgerald for next year's ANZ Championship campaign.
Forsyth's credentials didn't seem to stack up against others, such as this year's assistant Tanya Dearns, but the former Magic board member will fit into the group the best, according to Waikato-Bay of Plenty Zone chairman John Wiltshire.
"She actually fitted in with the team that we were looking to get together and gather round the squad and gather round Julie," Wiltshire said, adding that the future of the zone was paramount in the decision.
"She has a good knowledge in terms of the New Zealand scene and the New Zealand players, and she's been watching the ANZ Championship carefully in her other capacities. She also has a wealth of experience from the playing days and also she has, in our view, anyway, a very good ability to liaise with people around the netballing community."
Wiltshire said there is a "little bit of a shortage" in the New Zealand back-up coaching scene.
All the more reason that sacking someone like Dearns doesn't seem right.
Asked why there was no place for her, Wiltshire paused for a very long time before answering: "We took the opportunity to look at any candidates and any people that we thought were going to be appropriate to cover off what we thought was best for the squad.
"You just actually pick the one you think dovetails in and fits in best with what you've got and what you're trying to achieve in the future."
While she is reluctant to comment publicly, the Waikato Times understands Dearns is furious with the appointment process, and feels that she has been marginalised and stabbed in the back.
"I really enjoyed working with [former head coach] Noeline [Taurua] and the team and am extremely disappointed to have been overlooked for a coaching position going forward," Dearns said in a statement.
"It appears the WBOP Zone Board have decided to use the early resignation of Noeline Taurua as an opportunity to completely change the past coaching structures.
"Netball has always been my passion and now I no longer play, I want to contribute by pursuing a coaching career and I will continue to make this my focus."
Wiltshire said the appointment of the new assistant was a joint decision between Fitzgerald and the sub committee and there was no thought to putting a clean sweep through the previous regime.
"There's never been any sort of suggestion or any intention, just simply looking to try and get the best candidate in each position into the job."
Forsyth's contract is not for a specific period of time and she's unsure whether she will remain as a Ferns selector in her new role, which she will juggle with her position as a Hamilton City Councillor.
"Being a coach of Magic it's something that's been in the back of my mind for a number of years and I thought maybe one day it'd be something I'd like to pursue.
"It's an exciting opportunity, I'm ready to step in there and give it my best shot."
It's been reported that Forsyth was promised a coaching position before resigning from the board which she'd been on for five months, but both her and Wiltshire strongly denied that.
After Taurua's shock resignation, Forsyth saw an opening to further her coaching career.
"Look, I wasn't promised anything, simple as that," she said.
Forsyth stepped down from the board eight days before interviews were held for the head coach role, which she applied for.
"I think it 's the right thing to do really. I didn't think that I could be a board member and apply for a job. So for me it was an obvious part of the process. I put in an application and then resigned."
There were no subsequent interviews for the assistant role.
While still in her playing days, Forsyth coached her Verdettes club side, then having stopped playing, went on to take Waikato and New Zealand A, before taking a break from the sport.
She returned almost a decade ago and has been an assistant Waikato under-21 coach, took a St Paul's Collegiate School team, ran a high performance programme for Hamilton City Netball and coached at various national high performance camps.
She was also yesterday announced as the coach of Hamilton for this year's national championships, presumably to give her some desperately needed experience.
- Waikato Times
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