De­par­ture of Fire coach throws Flana­gan’s plans into dis­ar­ray

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport - by Andrew Aloia andrew. aloia@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

THE eas­i­est de­ci­sion of Rachael Flana­gan’s ca­reer is now the most dif­fi­cult.

Only days ago the Fire cap­tain and two-time club MVP wouldn’t have hes­i­tated ex­tend­ing her sixyear stay with the Townsville WNBL club.

That all changed on Satur­day when coach Peter Buckle made a house-call to say he would not ne­go­ti­ate a new con­tract for him­self de­spite the club be­ing saved from fi­nan­cial ruin less than 24 hours ear­lier.

Flana­gan, who un­der­went knee surgery on Thurs­day, said she was ‘‘ shocked’’ by the news, ad­mit­ting her plans to stay in the city that she has come to call her sec­ond home are now un­cer­tain.

Hav­ing worked her way on to the fringes of Aus­tralian se­lec­tion af­ter four years play­ing un­der the Opals as­sis­tant, the point guard feels in­debted to Buckle.

‘‘ I’ll have some se­ri­ous think­ing to do,’’ she told the Townsville Bul­letin yes­ter­day.

‘‘ Bucks leav­ing will have some­thing to do with it. He is the rea­son that my bas­ket­ball has de­vel­oped the way it has over the me,’’ she said. ‘‘ I have to play for the right per­son for my game, some­one who can help me get to the Games.’’

Fire man­age­ment will now be in a race against time to find a re­place­ment for Buckle if they are to con­vince Flana­gan that Townsville will be the spring­board to Lon­don.

The 28-year-old’s ser­vices will go to open mar­ket in less than two weeks time when the free agents list is re­leased.

‘‘ If they can get a qual­ity coach here, then ab­so­lutely I want to play for Townsville . . . this is where I want to fin­ish my ca­reer,’’ she said.

‘‘ There are a lot of great coaches around, the prob­lem is that they all have jobs at the mo­ment. There are some good as­sis­tant coaches which they could try to at­tract.’’

Flana­gan added that hav­ing a coach in place be­fore the free agents list goes out is a must if the Fire stand any chance of at­tract­ing qual­ity re­cruits.

‘‘ You would want to go to a club with a coach,’’ she said. ‘‘ And then there is plan­ning for next sea­son, al­ready clubs that have fin­ished their sea­son have got lists of play­ers and plans in place.’’

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