The Southern Steel have defended their national netball premiership title in dramatic fashion, with attention now turning to Wednesday’s naming of the Silver Ferns for the upcoming Quad Series.
Netball New Zealand have scheduled a team announcement early on Wednesday afternoon for the series against Australia, South Africa and Commonwealth champions England.
But there’s no word on whether a coach will be named, with Netball NZ saying only that an update on the “head coach appointment process” will also be made on Wednesday.
There appears to have been little local interest in filling the position vacated by Janine Southby, who resigned last month in the wake of an independent review into the Ferns’ disastrous Commonwealth Games campaign.
Netball NZ boss Jennie Wyllie earlier said that the door was open for off-shore applicants, with Australia-based former Magic and Steel coach Noeline Taurua appearing a possible option.
Taurua’s Sunshine Coast Lightning team have made the preliminary final of Australia’s Super Netball competition after edging the Firebirds 57-56 in Brisbane yesterday, and now play the Giants in Sydney on Sunday to decide who will meet West Coast Fever in the final.
In Palmerston North on Sunday, the Steel trailed the Pulse by six goals with less than four minutes to play. The defending champions scored the last seven goals of the match to snatch a 54-53 victory.
The result meant the Southern franchise sent retiring captain Wendy Frew out with back-to-back championships, while the Pulse missed out on a maiden title.
Frew said afterwards she’d always had faith in her Steel teammates.
“To come back from that in the last few minutes, it just showed the true character of the girls and the belief within the squad, and the heart we have,” she said.
“We knew what defence structures we were doing, we knew how we could get ball, and we knew what we had to do to do it.”
Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie said the result was hugely disappointing.
“We had our opportunities and we had some good control throughout the match.
“But I think we got a little bit tense, and I think we held the ball a little bit, didn’t quite play with the length and depth that we’d been playing with.”