Van Dyk, Magic stars may move on

WILL SHE OR WON'T SHE?: A question mark hangs over the future of Irene Van Dyk's time with the Magic.
WILL SHE OR WON'T SHE?: A question mark hangs over the future of Irene Van Dyk's time with the Magic.

Irene van Dyk is among the crucial Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic players whose future with the franchise will hinge on the appointment of the new coach to be announced this week.

The former New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year is among a group of Magic players thought to be eager to leave the franchise, after the departure of longtime coach Noeline Taurua.

Magic captain Laura Langman is another, along with Leana de Bruin and defender and Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua, formerly Williams. Sources have indicated the players are interested in joining the Pulse or Canterbury Tactix en masse, although van Dyk said it was too early to say anything definitive.

"We haven't decided. We haven't actually talked about it because they [the Magic] haven't announced the new coach yet, so we're waiting to see who the board appoint," van Dyk told Fairfax Media.

"I know there are a lot of rumours going on and we're just as confused as you guys, really. So I can't say, ‘Yes we're moving,' or ‘No, we're not,' because no-one's made a decision."

The Magic are expected to name Taurua's successor this week, at which point van Dyk, Langman and Kopua will come to a verdict about next year. Rival teams are not permitted to speak to players until after the completion of the trans-Tasman league on July 14.

Australian Diamonds assistant coach Julie Fitzgerald - formerly in charge of the NSW Swifts - is reportedly a leading contender for the magic coaching role.

With a new coach comes a new regime and for van Dyk, in particular, that could prove troublesome, as she commutes from Wellington for training.

Under Taurua the Magic trained as a team on Wednesday evenings and Thursday mornings, completing their individual programmes around that, but if the new coach wanted more team trainings, then it appears van Dyk would have no option but to look elsewhere.

Given their long playing history, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the big four stick together.

If players want to pursue other options they have to go via the players' association, while if other teams want to approach players they can't do so until after the grand final (it used to be two weeks after the decider) and also have to fit under the $380,000 salary cap.

Pulse coach Robyn Broughton is deciding whether she will return next year, while Tactix coach Leigh Gibbs said her franchise would definitely be looking at what star power they could add to their roster, but wasn't sure if Taurua's departure would give her side a better chance of securing those players.

De Bruin admitted it would be hard for her to go anywhere because her "life is pretty set up in the Waikato".

But she said the coach announcement would be the driving factor.

"I think we've been pretty spoilt with Noeline and it's going to be quite hard to adjust to a person you totally don't know," she said.

"They might want to train every day together. Realistically that will be quite hard for an older player [she turns 36 next week] like myself, to be able to have that longevity in a career. Everybody's kind of just sitting and waiting to see what happens. It's quite hard not to know and being in limbo."

Magic CEO Tim Hamilton had originally set himself a deadline of the end of June to announce the new coach but that has stalled slightly, adding weight to the Fitzgerald speculation because Netball New Zealand has to sign off the announcement and needs to be convinced that hiring from overseas is the best option rather than blocking the pathway for local coaches.

"We need to do this efficiently and as effectively as we can," Hamilton said.

"And I guess from that everything else flows. I think the traffic of player movement, that process needs to begin with the new coach.

"I think it's like bringing your wife into your family really isn't it. You've got to get to know everyone and get a lie of the land and suss people out and do you want to be here, do you like your relatives.

"They may not particularly relate to a player or think that a player doesn't cut it either and may also feel that it may be in the best interests of a player to move on."

One player who is set to be missing next season is Jodi Tod-Elliott, the 32-year-old understood to be retiring.

Although she isn't admitting to having played her last game, it's believed Tod-Elliott - who came back this year after a season off to spend more time with family - has succumbed to the attrition of the game and the desire to have more time with her husband and daughters.