Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Dana Johannsen: Noeline Taurua's Tasman move the slap Netball NZ deserves

Noeline Taurua, snubbed for the Silver Ferns coaching role last year, was today named to lead the Sunshine Coast expansion team. Photo / Christine Cornege.
Noeline Taurua, snubbed for the Silver Ferns coaching role last year, was today named to lead the Sunshine Coast expansion team. Photo / Christine Cornege.

Noeline Taurua's move to across the Tasman is a slap in the face Netball NZ deserves.

Taurua, snubbed for the Silver Ferns coaching role last year, was today named to lead the Sunshine Coast expansion team that will compete in the new Australian domestic competition.

The new franchise, which is backed by NRL club the Melbourne Storm, beat out several other teams to secure the signature of Taurua, with the charismatic coach fielding offers from around New Zealand, Australia and England.

That Taurua found herself in hot demand around the world less than a year after she was rejected for the Ferns role, in which she failed to even make the shortlist, has further undermined Netball NZ's appointments process for the top job.

Through no fault of her own, new coach Janine Southby is now under huge pressure to deliver results in the upcoming international season.

It didn't help that Taurua enjoyed immediate success with the Southern Steel this season after taking over from the woman she lost out on the national role to.

Taurua further underlined her coaching ability by leading the Steel to the minor premiership on the back of an unbeaten run through the regular season - an unprecedented result for a New Zealand team.

Whereas a great deal of the Magic's success was attributed to an all-star line-up that included the most influential Silver Ferns of the time - Casey Kopua, Laura Langman and Irene van Dyk - the Steel side Taurua inherited were largely unproven at the top level.

She was able to mould the group of raw, inexperienced players into a team the competition respected. The growth players like Te Paea Selby-Rickit, Gina Crampton and Jane Watson have undergone this season proves what a massive loss Taurua will be to New Zealand netball.

Not surprisingly, the Steel fought desperately hard to keep the coach who dramatically turned their fortunes around this season, while Taurua also fielded an offer from the new Auckland start-up team, who today announced the appointment of former Vixens coach Julie Hoornweg.

But the reality is Taurua has nothing else to prove in New Zealand.

At the new Sunshine Coast club she will have the opportunity to challenge herself in what promises to be a highly competitive Australian league. The former Silver Fern will also get the opportunity to help build a franchise from scratch, establishing her own and culture and systems from the get-go.

The ability to draw on the resources of the Storm, club that prides itself on its performance culture, must also be a huge drawcard for Taurua. Many still hold out hope that New Zealand netball will one day be able to capitalise on the wealth of experience she is set to gain across the Tasman.

While Taurua has come to believe she may never be Silver Ferns coach after being overlooked for the top job for what were termed "non-performance related" reasons, if she is successful in Australia, her record will become impossible for Netball NZ to ignore.

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