Long-time coach Noeline Taurua and Cantabrian Marg Foster joined forces this year to bring something new to the Magic mix. They talk to Ingrid Tiriana about their season together.
The combined talents of Noeline Taurua and Marg Foster have added a new flavour to the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic product.
That combined product hasn't always been "pretty" as Taurua puts it, but so far it has got them to the semifinals in this year's ANZ Championship.
After a poor showing in the major semifinal against the Firebirds last week, Taurua and Foster will need to dig deep in their combined bag of tricks to come up with a successful formula for the elimination semi against the Northern Mystics tomorrow.
The Magic, the only New Zealand team to have made the finals series of the transtasman competition since it started in 2008, are desperate for a chance to win the title but will be up against an equally desperate Mystics side, still on a high after beating the Swifts to make the semis.
Taurua says the success or otherwise of the two-coach combination will be in the final telling and she's happy to be measured by that.
"We are fortunate that we had the two lives and we've got another opportunity," she says of the preliminary semi loss.
Taurua is known for her inventiveness, a trait which blends well with Foster's energy and no-nonsense style. Add their experience as top netballers in their day and the two former Silver Ferns make a formidable pair.
Besides mutual respect and admiration, they share a lot of the same coaching philosophies and that has helped them work together successfully. Both are creative and open to new ideas, which Rotorua-based head coach Taurua says has been "exciting".
"We both look at people for positions rather than the other way around."
Taurua reckons she and Foster are covering all bases.
"We have the same philosophy but go about things in a different way ... it's been really positive for me having her around."
Both coaches are big on the need to create the right team environment.
"We also both believe in self-responsibility when it comes to the roles everyone has to play and we've been very clear in the delineation between our roles from the beginning.
"Marg brings that good old Cantabrian style in terms of ball possession and structure on the court and we're starting to get that mix of styles in the product we're putting out on court," says Taurua.
Foster, meanwhile, rates Taurua as a coach who has "that X-factor" and the goods to be a Silver Ferns coach: "She's innovative but she has a really good feel for her athletes ... she's always got more in the back pocket, more tricks up her sleeve, it's what makes her such an amazing coach."
Foster has found her involvement with Magic a calming influence on a rollercoaster year in which her Christchurch home was "munted", her business, the Premium Steakhouse and Bar, "wrecked", and her other business, a sports-skills programme, severely curbed.
Through it all, Foster has maintained her sense of humour and enjoyed a bit of fun with her new coaching buddy, the pair usually taking time for "a bit of a shop" when they're playing outside the Magic's region and generally enjoying each other's company.
The commuting she's done has allowed Foster time out from the crises in Christchurch.
The two coaches played just one year together, for Wellington, and were never in the Ferns together but always shared a mutual respect.
However, the partnership could be over as quickly as it began, with Foster seeking the now vacant Canterbury Tactix coaching job.
Taurua would have her back in a heartbeat but accepts Foster needs to try for the job in her home town.
As for Foster, she still has her mind firmly on the task ahead of the Magic.