Netball: World Cup defeat ends Lisa Alexander's Australian tenure

Lisa Alexander coaches Australia against New Zealand
Lisa Alexander coaches Australia against New Zealand. Photo credit: AAP

A one-goal World Cup final loss to New Zealand has effectively spelled the end of Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander, after more than eight years in the role, with Netball Australia deciding not to renew her contract.

The Australians lost their world title to the Silver Ferns last July, but have still maintained their No.1 ranking.

That wasn't enough for Alexander to hold on to her job, with Netball Australia announcing she would finish up with the Diamonds' bushfire relief charity match in Sydney on March 1.

With tearful current Australian players, including skipper Caitlin Basset, watching on, Alexander said she wanted to continue in the role.

With the Diamonds also losing the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold-medal decider, she feared for her future, after the World Cup defeat in England.

"Particularly after the World Cup loss, there's always a sense of paranoia in the coaching that a loss like that will determine an outcome down the track and while it's much more complex than that... at the end of the day, it's expected that Australian netball is successful," Alexander said.

"I thought that we'd done enough to show a turnaround in the Constellation Cup, but at the end of the day, that's the decision.

"I feel disappointed... I did truly want to go on and I felt I had more to offer, but coaches are judged on results and that's why the Diamonds are so successful - we demand success."

Alexander said she was proud of her achievements in setting up a high-performance programme that had been lauded worldwide, with England rugby union coach Eddie Jones recently inviting her into their camp.

Her record over 102 tests was 83-19, with the Diamonds winning the 2015 World Cup in Sydney, which she said was her most memorable victory.

Despite the heart-breaking 2019 loss, Alexander said she still had the support of players.

"I definitely knew it wasn't anything to do with the players not being satisfied," the 56-year-old said.

Netball Australia chief executive Marne Fechner said the hunt for Alexander's replacement would start next month, with the new coach overseeing the Quad Series in September.

"This, by no means, has been an easy decision," Fechner said. "Ultimately, though, we look toward the next four-year cycle and beyond that, and there's a consensus and appetite for change. 

"We believe it's in the best interest of the programme to open up the role in March this year. We acknowledge and respect the fact that this is not the outcome that Lisa was looking for."

Fechner said her preference was for an Australian coach.

"The parochial nature and the passion that we have, as Australia, for the Diamonds and netball, it makes sense that it's an Australian coach. I know that there's some great coaches out there coaching in our Super Netball league and also coaching internationally as well.

"You'd like to think, with the pedigree on our shores, that's where the next coach will come from."

Former internationals Clare Ferguson (nee McMeniman) is the current Diamonds defence coach and Megan Anderson, shooting, but are unlikely to step up.

Jane Woodlands-Thompson, who oversees women's sport at Collingwood, has recently spent time assisting NZ coach Noeline Taurua, while Collingwood netball coach Rob Wright is thought to have international ambitions.

Former Diamond Simone McKinnis, who coaches Melbourne Vixens, may also be an option.