Netball: Dame Noeline Taurua teases announcement on Silver Ferns coaching future

The dust had barely settled on the Silver Ferns' final match in the Nations Cup at Leeds, when discussion quickly shifted to Dame Noeline Taurua's future as head coach.

The Ferns held off Uganda for the second time at the competition to clinch third place at the tournament. Australia later crushed England in the final to seal the title.

With her original contract expiring last October, Dame Noeline signed a mini-extension to remain with the team until the end of the team's campaign in England, buying herself some time to make a decision on her long-term outlook with the team.

Speaking immediately after the win over Uganda, she wasn't ready to commit either way, but insists an announcement is imminent.

"I'm still not sure," Dame Noeline told Newshub. "I'm really, really glad this tournament is over, if I'm honest, so I can get into that space [to make a decision].

"There's a bit of a process. We go through a review like we always do.  

"I feel my role here is as sort of a guardian of the Silver Ferns. I don't own it, so I'll do what's right for the Silver Ferns.

"I really don't know, but I'm happy that I'm now in the space. We get home on [January] 31st, so hopefully, by the first week of February, I'll be into that and seeing what the next step will be."

Taurua had been vocal about her intent to use the competition to develop some of her young talent and she had plenty to smile about in the performance she saw from debutants Georgia Heffernan, Amorangi Malesala and Tayla Earle.

The Silver Ferns finished third at the Nations Cup.
The Silver Ferns finished third at the Nations Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

Grace Nweke continued her emergence as one of netball's premier talents and could become the ideal centerpiece for Dame Noeline to build around - if the coach were to decide to stick around.

"There's amazing talent and potential in this current squad, and when you think of the next four years of what that would look like, it's awesome."

That said, Taurua is adamant the team's efforts in England won't be among the primary factors influencing her final decision.

"I don't think it's about this, as such," she said. "We've got a new breed of players coming through - am I the right person or fit for these current crop of players?

"Do I connect or not? Those are probably the main things that are in my mind at the moment, as well as. obviously. the pathways."

Taurua adds any potential new contract would only run until 2026, which wouldn't encompass the next World Cup in Australia in 2027.

The pair of wins over the rapidly improving 'She Cranes' were the only two NZ victories of the Nations Cup, combining with losses to World Cup finalists England and Australia for a 50 percent success rate overall.

Results aside, there was plenty to be encouraged by in their outings against the World Cup finalists. Inexperience perhaps came back to bite them in a fourth quarter capitulation to the Diamonds, while the outcome against the English may have been different, if not for an errant pass in the dying seconds.

Along with their efforts against Australia during October's Constellation Cup - where they split the series two games apiece, but ultimately lost the series to the holders - perhaps the arrow is beginning to trend upwards, after their disappointing World Cup campaign in South Africa.

While some familiar undesirable trends repeated over the past week at Leeds, Taurua is confident the team is bridging the gap.  

"This group has grown massively," she said. "We had 150 caps less than England in yesterday's game and really pushed that game to the wire.

"Our ability to back up from one game to another is still a bit of a workon and our ability to close the door when we need to is still a workon."

"Basic turnovers, that's something that's really costly. Yesterday, against England, we had 23 turnovers and you can't do that.

"We're nearly close to the likes of England and Australia, but still far, but we are ticking along and that's really pleasing."

"When we go back to the ANZ [Premiership] that's a place where we can improve. The system in itself needs to see what we can do in regards to the development and growth, and raise the intensity.

"That's probably putting more expectation on the players as well to lead their own programme.  

"When it comes down to it, it's about skillsets, our ability to secure the ball under pressure and deliver it as well. We do that in spasms, but consistency-wise, we're not that good."