Departure of Fire coach throws Flanagan’s plans into disarray
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.’’