ROUND 2 - New Faces.
There’s not a lot to read from Round 1 other than to say that Thunderbirds will need heaps of individual player coaching sessions with the lack of experience in their current defence end and more work ethic from their forward line is a must. Nat von Bertouch seem to be taking every second pass as they struggled to penetrate onto the circle and this should not have been the case with players from last year’s winning Grand Final attack end – but it’s better to have the defeat now because it will be educational for the young players and the first step to something better. Changes take time, it doesn’t happen overnight.
We saw the depth of Swifts and Mystics using their bench which was great to see from a selector’s point of view. It’s exciting to see new faces taking the court and it allows the selectors to see if they cope with the tempo of the game and their ability to make an impact.
It will be particularly interesting to watch the progress of two new faces contracted to the Firebirds. Elissa Macleod was a promising young centre court player some years ago in Victoria – I was pleased when she phoned me to chat about the offer she had from Firebirds. Elissa told me that she knew she had blown her opportunities back when she was playing for the Kestrels in CBT ... she then went off to England for a stint, playing in their Superleague and trekking around Europe (as you do when working in the UK). After coming home she played in last year’s ANL Grand Final and did a great job to help Victorian Fury win their third consecutive title.
Back from across the Tasman is Chelsea Pitman who was playing for Tactix when she was unable to crack the Swifts top line-up in 2010 after graduating from the AIS21/U Program. It was disappointing to see her have to depart overseas to play, but these days you need to get the court time and it did work in Chelsea’s favour. She had some very strong performances on WA for Tactix – a new position for her, and it gave me the opportunity to watch her progress. Unfortunately she incurred a knee injury requiring surgery and came back to the AIS for rehab for a while, so I was delighted when Firebirds picked her up. Chelsea is a physically strong WA/GA with great hands and not too many players will be able to push her around – and the same can be said for Elissa. I will be interested in their progress and it might take the season, but my tip is they will be great assets to Firebirds and, given the opportunity, will both pick up the pace very quickly.
Well no doubt you have seen the Netball Australia media release yesterday about the position of national coach being up for renewal. It all started when Warren Partland (of the Adelaide Advertiser) wanted to know what I was doing after World Championships, so Netball Australia replied with a media release that seems to have given mixed messages judging from the responses and phone calls I am receiving.
The media release sounds like I am retiring from netball (no doubt some people, mostly the Kiwis, might be pleased to hear that, some of you might not!)
To put the record straight ... the real truth is that I had a deal with NA which was made two years ago, that I wanted to go through to the 2011 World Champs and would then be happy to step aside. Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer said to me, ‘BUT, if you are the best person for the job why would you not re-apply?’, which was very nice to hear. I said to Kate that Netball Australia might want someone else to have a go after I’d been there for eight years but they have always made it very clear to me that they hope I would re-apply and I appreciated this support from them.
The National Coaching Position was always going to be advertised as this was the deal we had. I also felt it would be best for both parties to assess where they want to head after World Champs. This way both parties have choices, and it is only fair that other people have a chance to apply
But, for the record Diamonds fans, I’m not retiring! I will continue coaching after World Champs but exactly where remains to be seen – Diamonds coach, ANZ coach or overseas? My immediate focus is the 2011 World Netball Championships and to win it..... and I am absolutely passionate about doing this for Australia. And please don’t believe all you read in the papers, as they always either make it up if they don’t know it... or quote it wrong. I said to Warren Partland yesterday, Warren you just love to sensationalize everything!!!
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