Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander has sounded a warning to new Silver Ferns rival Noeline Taurua as she embarks on an unprecedented challenge.
Taurua has taken on the role of Silver Ferns coach through to the end of the 2019 World Cup, despite still being under contract with Australian Super Netball's Sunshine Coast Lightning, where she has won back-to-back titles.
The dual workload is a new endeavour for a Silver Ferns coach, and while there is no crossover between the Ferns schedule and Lightning schedule, Alexander believes it's going to be a tricky task.
"Obviously Noeline had a commitment to the Lightning and she'll have a very good assistant coach there [Kylee Byrne] who will look after the program when she's concentrating on her job with the Silver Ferns," Alexander told Radio Sport.
"I wish Noeline all the best in combining the two jobs together – but I don't think I particularly would be able to do both jobs and give it the attention that it's required."
Alexander and Taurua have had a positive working relationship the past few years, with Taurua's status in Australia giving them a chance to learn off each other and soak up their respective coaching secrets.
"It's been a great opportunity for myself to observe Noeline in action, and then she's also had that opportunity to discuss things with me about the Diamonds – so we've been privy to each other's coaching expertise," notes Alexander.
That relationship also creates complications for Alexander. Several Diamonds played under Taurua at the Lightning last year, meaning Taurua had some involvement with their connection in the national program.
However, with Taurua now in charge of the old enemy, Alexander says there will now be processes in place where Taurua will no longer have access to the Diamonds' athlete management system.
"We've worked closely together on the program for the Lightning and obviously the Diamonds that are in her program as well. Clearly that'll have to now not be looked upon by Noeline – Kylee Byrne will be in place to deal with the national program and the discussions around the Diamonds athletes."
It's been a year since the Silver Ferns last beat Australia, and their – and Taurua's – first chance to snap that streak comes in the final game of the Quad Series on the 23rd of September, before the two teams meet four times in the Constellation Cup in October.
The Diamonds will be planning for Taurua's inner knowledge of their players, while Alexander is wary that the return of Silver Ferns veterans Casey Kopua and Laura Langman could provide the Ferns with a renewed competitiveness.
"Clearly they felt they needed more experience in their group after the Commonwealth Games. Those players will certainly add a lot of experience and maturity into the group. They haven't played international netball in a while but I wouldn't underestimate their ability.
"It will be an interesting series in how [Taurua] hits the ground running, she obviously hasn't got a lot of time but I'm certain she will put everything into it and make sure it's a successful one for the Silver Ferns."