Netball: Dame Noeline Taurua reflects on historic Silver Ferns World Cup triumph

Almost an entire year later, Silver Ferns coach Dame Noeline Taurua has finally built up the courage to watch her team's 2019 Netball World Cup Final victory over Australia.

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of New Zealand's heart-stopping triumph in Liverpool, where the Ferns edged a 52-51 win to claim its first world crown in 16 years.

Just a few days ago, the emotions of that day came flooding back to Taurua, as she stumbled into one of her Mum's regular rewatchings of the match on YouTube.

With her coaching blinkers removed, she admits she finally truly appreciates just how great a spectacle it was.

"I know it was one year late, but I was probably more emotional watching it on TV," Taurua tells Newshub. "But it was such a good game.

"At the time, I probably didn't realise it, but it was so good to watch and, once again, be a part of as well."

Taurua's trademark unflappable demeanor was on full display that day, which she attributes to a sense of confidence in both her players and their preparation.

"When I woke up, I felt really calm and I also felt like I had done the work… it was just about us getting out there and playing.

"One of our consistent messages was that we were going out there to enjoy it and making sure everything we did leading into the World Cup was attention to detail.

"It was just like the end of the story that we wanted to enjoy - being able to execute and deliver, and that's what it's all about."

That composure proved critical through a nailbiting game that ebbed and flowed with a string of shifts in momentum. 

And although Taurua ultimately made no personnel changes throughout, she admits she came close to making what would have been a courageously bold substitution in the early going.

"I think I was pretty close, with Maria Folau, to making that change in that first quarter," Taurua notes. "She coughed up a few errors there, but she pulled herself together, and she became a possessed woman in the second, third and fourth quarter, so it was really great to see."

As far as non-substitutes go, it proved a masterstroke. Folau clicked into gear and caught fire, displaying every inch of her experience and class at the helm to help stave off a relentless Australian side in pursuit of its fourth straight Cup. 

Of course, Taurua confesses to plenty of 'facepalm' moments, as she relived those anxiety-inducing minutes down the stretch.

"It was so frustrating," she says. "There were moments that we were up and in dominant mode, and we either coughed up the ball or got caught up under pressure, and didn't stick to the task at hand, 

"But obviously we did win and the emotions that came out were a bit of relief, but also immense pride in regards to how far we've come as an organisation and a team."

The victory was the culmination of a remarkable reversal of form engineered by Taurua. 

She took charge of a team that was reeling from their Commonwealth Games disaster a year earlier, when New Zealand failed to medal for the first time in the event's history.

A tearful Taurua on the podium after the World Cup final win.
A tearful Taurua on the podium after the World Cup final win. Photo credit: Getty

In hindsight, Taurua believes acknowledging those shortcomings was a critical stepping stone on their path to redemption in England.

"Even though Comm Games didn't finish in the way that we wanted, it was part of our history and it was something that we had to acknowledge," she adds. "We had to endure that pain.

"It was a matter of us addressing those and having a great strategic plan, staging that plan and making it work. First and foremost, that meant having good people involved who had the same intent of winning."

When she returned from her decorated reign with Australia's Sunshine Coast - who she led to three-straight Super netball titles - Taurua's edict was to bring NZ back to winning ways and she emphatically delivered on that.

The accomplishment instantly entered the annals of Kiwi sporting folklore. The Silver Ferns were widely acclaimed, scooping the Halbergs to win both Team of the Year and the Supreme Award.

Taurua claimed Coach of the Year for her efforts, to go with the damehood she received in 2019 New Year's Honours.

"I knew before I signed what we could possibly do and how we could win, and that's through my experience in Australia," she says.

"We only won by one point, and that one point is the difference between jubilation and emotional distress. Always good to be on the right side of the ledger.

"I love winning. That's what it's all about, to get out there and compete."

And Taurua has every intention of being back on deck in 2023, when New Zealand try to defend their title in South Africa - sweet music to a Kiwi netball tragic's ears.

"My intent is to be there for the next [world championships] in 2023," Taurua tells Newshub. 

"So I've just got to produce the results."