- Publish Date
- Thursday, 22 October 2015, 2:27PM
The next Silver Ferns coach is yet to be appointed but already the fallout has begun after Noeline Taurua - widely regarded as the best local candidate - failed to make the final cut in the search for Waimarama Taumaunu's replacement.
Taumaunu will finish with the Ferns following this month's Constellation Cup series against Australia, which continues tonight with the second test in Auckland.
Netball New Zealand narrowed down the list of candidates to just two - believed to be one Kiwi and one Australian - with Taurua not among them.
Taurua could not be contacted for comment yesterday, but a source close to the former Magic coach confirmed to the Herald she did not make it through the second round of the appointments process - a decision that came as a "kick in the guts" for her.
Having amassed an impressive track record with the Magic, including leading the side to New Zealand's maiden ANZ Championship title in 2012, Taurua was considered the local favourite for the job.
Since stepping down as coach of the Waikato-Bay of Plenty franchise in 2013, she has been working to build her CV in preparation for a tilt at the top job, completing her masters in science and performance coaching, and taking on international coaching consultancy work.
With Taurua out of the running, it now appears almost certain the job will go to an Australian. The final two candidates are believed to be former New Zealand under-21 and now Steel coach Janine Southby, and former NSW Swifts coach Julie Fitzgerald, who took over from Taurua at the Waikato-Bay of Plenty franchise.
But Southby is said to have applied for the role more to prove her ambition, and has indicated she does not believe she is ready to take on the role just yet.
The idea of an Australian coach in charge of the Ferns is already causing disquiet among the New Zealand netball community, with many outraged the national body is not prepared to put its faith in a local coach.
Netball NZ high performance director Steve Lancaster would not comment on individuals while the appointments process is still ongoing, but said the Silver Ferns deserve the best possible coach available.
"From the outset we said we want to appoint the best person for this role, so we're not going to limit our search to simply New Zealanders. We're considering any applicant that presents a strong case for the role," he said.
Finding a replacement for Taumaunu was always going to be a fraught process given the lack of depth in New Zealand's elite coaching ranks.
Netball NZ is also facing questions over its decision to extend the contracts of Taumaunu and the players through to the end of the year, delaying the long-term growth of the team. Several veteran players, including Leana de Bruin, Jodi Brown and captain Casey Kopua, are expected to retire following the series, leading some to question the wisdom of their selection - particularly after a lacklustre 50-44 loss in the opening test in Christchurch on Tuesday - when younger players are waiting in the wings.
The incoming coach will already be a step behind Australian counterpart Lisa Alexander, who is well under way with her planning for the next four-year cycle, using the four-test series to blood young players.
But Lancaster said the turnaround between the World Cup and the current series was too tight to run a thorough appointments process. "We did not want to rush this process just because other countries have got coaches in place," said Lancaster.