Michael Burgess

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Netball: Players want answers

Ruth Aitken.
Photo / NZPA
Ruth Aitken. Photo / NZPA

Ruth Aitken's appointment as Mystics coach has been seen as something of a coup for the franchise but there is concern over how it unfolded.

The decision to bring in the former Silver Ferns coach was made without any consultation with the players, who only heard about it at the Silver Ferns trial. The Auckland franchise appears to have ignored the collective agreement which sets out processes around the appointment of coaching staff.

"The agreement does require the players and the players' association to be consulted in regard to coaching appointments," says New Zealand Netball Players Association director Tim Lythe.

"Unfortunately, on this occasion that didn't happen to the extent required and that is disappointing.

"We have expressed our disappointment to the Mystics and hope to meet with them soon to discuss the situation."

The Mystics may have had their reasons but the move is unusual. Super Rugby franchises regularly seek the views of senior players and it is also common practice with the All Blacks, Black Caps and Warriors among other teams.

Aitken's appointment and the shifting of Debbie Fuller into an assistant role means former assistant coaches Gail Parata and Megan Dehn are likely to move on. It is difficult to understand why the views of senior players (as well as outgoing captain Temepara George) were not sought.

"Players, particularly senior ones, are well placed to provide valuable thoughts and feedback regarding the needs of the team, its culture and environment," says Lythe.

"Engaging the players in that process can only be healthy. It is not about the players making the decision, it is about the players having a genuine opportunity to provide input and feedback."

- Herald on Sunday

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