The likely leading candidate for the Silver Ferns assistant coach role has all but ruled out applying for the position.
Noeline Taurua was seen as the ideal foil for Waimarama Taumaunu in managing the national team, but the Magic coach and busy mother of five said she does not believe she can commit to the role, which was advertised by the national body this week.
"I've looked at all the information and the dates involved and more than likely I won't put my name forward," said Taurua.
"The commitment is too much for me at the moment just with my young ones, so that's the way I'm leaning at the moment."
After holding rolling auditions for the position last season, Netball New Zealand are looking to appoint a permanent assistant coach to take the team through to the end of the 2015 world championships in Sydney.
Taurua, Gail Parata and Janine Southby all had a turn in the hot seat alongside Taumaunu during various stages of the Constellation Cup and Quad Series last year, while Debbie Fuller and Natalie Avellino assisted with preparing the Fast Ferns for the World Series in Auckland.
Taumaunu believes all parties benefited from the arrangement, but with two pinnacle events - the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the world championships - looming in the next two years, she is looking for more consistency in her management group.
Given Taumaunu's defensive background, the ideal candidate would be a coach with more of an attacking background.
"I think [an attacking coach] is the most likely scenario, but I don't want to pre-empt the process and there's always the option of bringing in specialist coaches as well.
"So if someone can really stand up and say they bring added value in an area that isn't the attack end, we would certainly look at that."
But with Taurua expressing her reservations about the role, and Parata taking up a head coach position in Scotland, the pool has dwindled slightly from last season.
Taumaunu said she would consider an overseas coach for the role, but stressed the successful candidate must have a passion for the Silver Ferns and New Zealand netball, which "wouldn't be as easy for an overseas applicant".
"I'm pretty confident we've got the quality of people in New Zealand to do the job," she added.
Netball New Zealand yesterday announced their key fixtures for 2013, with the Silver Ferns to open their international season at Invercargill's newly rebuilt Stadium Southland.
The Ferns will take on Australia in the first of five Constellation Cup tests on September 15 - almost three years to the day that the Stadium Southland roof collapsed under the weight of one of the heaviest snowfalls the region has seen.
Auckland's Vector Arena will then host the last test on home soil on September 19 before the Silver Ferns cross the Tasman and play in Adelaide (October 4), Melbourne (October 7) and Canberra (October 13).
The Ferns will also play a three-test home series against an as yet unconfirmed team following the Constellation series.
Running a rule over the five New Zealand teams
Dana Johannsen looks at the Kiwi squads contesting the ANZ Championship
You have to feel for new coach Ruth Aitken. The Mystics have had an extremely disjointed pre-season after the late withdrawal of co-captain Anna Harrison, who announced last month she is expecting her first child, and the loss of experienced defender Charlotte Kight, injured in the team's second training session after the Christmas break. Add to that the absence of Maria Tutaia for a decent chunk of the pre-season and Grace Rasmussen's niggly calf injury and the Mystics appear as though they will start the season well behind the eight-ball. Former Steel midcourter Hayley Saunders has been recruited to cover the losses, joining the team in Auckland this week. But questions have been asked as to why she wasn't approached sooner.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic
The defending champions have been quietly going about their business in the pre-season, with their only public hitout against the Pulse in New Plymouth last month, which they won.
The Silver Ferns in the group are in good nick after coming back from the summer break fit and refreshed, with several top players reportedly achieving new fitness standards.
Noeline Taurua has declared her side to be 4-6 weeks ahead of where they were at last season, which is probably a good thing considering they opened 2012 with four straight losses.
Tipped to be the movers and shakers of the competition this season with Liana Leota and Donna Wilkins boosting what was already a well-rounded line-up. New mum Joline Henry is said to be making steady progress in her battle to be ready for the team's opening clash against the Thunderbirds in Adelaide, but she acknowledges it will be a couple of months before she is back to her best. The Wellington-based team will have their final hit-out today against the Tactix in a pre-season friendly in Christchurch.
The Tactix have had a couple of injuries to manage over the pre-season, with Bessie Manu and new recruit Julianna Naoupu sitting out the pre-season tournament in Melbourne. Naoupu has had to ease her way back into action after undergoing knee surgery in the off-season, but the young shooter is expected to be ready for the Tactix season-opener against her former team the Magic.
After recording their worst finish in the league last season with only goal percentage saving them from collecting the wooden spoon, the Steel have shown promising signs pre-season. The Southern team had a couple of strong results in the pre-season tournament in Melbourne last month, with 1.98m Jamaican import Jhaniele Fowler settling in well at the franchise (especially now she has a new custom-made bed). The Steel will have their final tune-up in Dunedin today against a legends team including Adine Wilson, Belinda Colling, Tania Dalton and Jenny-May Coffin.
NZ v Australia - 2013 Constellation Cup schedule
* September 15, Stadium Southland, Invercargill
* September 19, Vector Arena, Auckland
* October 4, Netball SA Stadium, Adelaide
* October 7, Hisense Arena, Melbourne
* October 13, AIS Arena, Canberraby