Opinion: When/if Dame Noeline Taurua steps down as Silver Ferns coach, who's next?

OPINION: As Dame Noeline Taurua contemplates her future as Silver Ferns coach, who are the candidates to replace the great Dame, whenever that happens?   

By beating Australia Diamonds in the last two matches of the Constellation Cup, the Ferns seemed back on track, after their disappointing World Cup campaign.   

Their second victory seemed to bring hope and faith back to the fans, and Taurua was more upbeat in the post-match press conference than she had been in a while.

Dame Noeline Taurua.
Dame Noeline Taurua. Photo credit: Photosport

She was also hungrier than ever to bring the Quad Series trophy home in January.   

Her contract was due to end in November but at the start of October, Netball New Zealand and Taurua agreed to extend until after that series, but what lies beyond remains a mystery.  

She may decide to stay on, but it's just as likely, she may decide it's time to leave the role she's held since 2018.   

If she does, who are the frontrunners for the gig?   

Debbie Fuller   

Fuller has been the Silver Ferns assistant coach since 2018, appointed by Taurua herself. The pair played together at representative and international levels, so they know each other well, both off and on the court.   

Fuller has never publicly stated she would like to take over the top gig, but she seems like the most straightforward choice. 

Deb Fuller.
Deb Fuller. Photo credit: Photosport

She has now worked with all the players for several years, but her fate may depend on whether Netball NZ wants a clean slate coachingwise or familiarity.   

Yvette McCausland-Durie   

McCausland-Durie has been a superstar coach for Central Pulse, guiding the Wellington-based side for nine seasons and winning four ANZ Premiership titles.   

She has decided to take a step back from coaching, wrapping up her time with the Pulse at the end of the 2023 season, as she re-opens St Stephen's School in Auckland with her husband.   

After the domestic season, she went to the Netball World Cup with Fiji Pearls, gaining valuable international coaching experience. She also coached the U21 Silver Ferns team from 2006-09. 


Yvette McCausland-Durie.
Yvette McCausland-Durie. Photo credit: Getty Images

Before the World Cup, when asked if she would come back to netball coaching - especially if the top job was up for grabs - she replied, 'Never say never'. 

Would January be too soon?

Kiri Wills  

Wills has been a personal favourite during recent ANZ seasons. Despite Northern Stars failing to win a title, they have been in the final three times - not bad for a team that haven't been around for very long.

She has also coached the U21 Silver Ferns team and led them to back-to-back world titles.

Kiri Willis.
Kiri Willis. Photo credit: Photosport

Wills has recently been involved with the Silver Ferns coaching group during the Constellation Cup series, which got people chatting. 

Maybe Netball NZ wants her to get that experience for a reason... 

Liana Leota

Leota played for several domestic teams, including Southern Sting, under the late great Robyn Broughton for nine years. She played 41 test matches for the Silver Ferns and was part of the squad that won 2010 Commonwealth Games gold at New Delhi, before heading off to play in the Vitality Superleague in England.   

She started her coaching career in 2021, when she was appointed England Roses technical coach. She took her coaching to the next level during this year's Taini Jamieson series, when she was appointed head coach of a development squad. 

Despite the many options available in New Zealand, Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie says it will also look offshore for their next head coach.

During the last game of the Taini Jamieson series, Leota was asked if she would return home, but she said not yet, as her children were still growing up and saw the UK as home - but perhaps a call-up to the Silver Ferns role might change that.

Marianne Delaney-Hoshek  

The Tactix head coach has also been around for several years, with experience helping out with the Silver Ferns, and has recently confirmed her aspirations for the top job.   

Delaney-Hoshek led the Canterbury side to the ANZ Premiership grand final two years running and has just wrapped up a successful Fast5 series as NZ coach.

That series will give her international experience, as well as acquainting her with many of the young and upcoming players - but will all this be enough? 

Marianne Delaney-Hoshek.
Marianne Delaney-Hoshek. Photo credit: Photosport

Another honorable mention is former Silver Ferns Julie Seymour, who has been appointed as national U21 coach through to 2025.   

That's a lot for Netball New Zealand to ponder, but first thing's first - Dame Noeline Taurua must decide whether to stay or go.   

Natasha Payne is a Newshub sports reporter