Coaching change possible in ‘open’ Silver Ferns review Joseph, Brown face tough homecoming
Replacing Janine Southby as Silver Ferns coach is on the table, as Netball New Zealand embarks on a review of its high performance programme, in the wake of the team’s fourth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games.
Led by an independent expert who is yet to be appointed, the review panel is set to present its findings to Netball NZ’s board in early June, with chief executive Jennie Wyllie not ruling anything out yesterday.
‘‘I don’t think anything’s off the table,’’ she said. ‘‘We need to be very open and transparent in what we’re doing. We need to put measures in place which allow us to rebuild and come back stronger than we are now.’’
Southby’s position has been described as untenable in the wake of the Silver Ferns’ capitulation on the Gold Coast, where they lost to Malawi, scraped into the semifinals on goal percentage, failed to make the final for the first time and lost to Jamaica in the bronze medal game.
Appointed in 2016, Southby is contracted through to the end of next year’s World Cup. In the aftermath of Sunday’s loss to Jamaica, she said she would wait for the review to take place before making any decisions.
Wyllie wouldn’t comment on Southby’s position, except to point to the review, which will start in two weeks, when players return from post-Games leave.
‘‘The review is first and foremost the biggest tool we can use, in working out what didn’t work and where we need to go to from here.’’ Former All Blacks Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown may have glanced at each other with eyebrows raised as they discussed the rugged welcome planned for their homecoming tour of New Zealand.
The pair, now in charge of the Sunwolves, have to prepare the Japanese team to play the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday night, followed by the hard-charging Hurricanes – who will be refreshed after the bye – in Wellington.
It’s difficult to think of a more daunting assignment for the winless Sunwolves, a side that splits home games between Tokyo and Singapore and travels more than any other team in Super Rugby.
Joseph and Brown, who coached the Highlanders to the Super Rugby title in 2015, have landed themselves a busy work portfolio since electing to shift north to Japan to coach the national team. The original deal was broadened to enable the pair to also coach the Sunwolves.
Joseph, who travelled to Japan as the advance party following the 2016 Super Rugby season, was joined by Brown after he completed his duties as Highlanders head coach last year.
‘‘They are very well coached, with plenty of Kiwi knowledge there,’’ Crusaders flanker Matt Todd said. ‘‘They will know how to prepare for Kiwi teams – as they showed against the Blues [last weekend].
‘‘They have got guys who skin you from anywhere, who can keep the ball alive and offload. So we can’t knock off at any stage.’’
If Todd had said anything different, he might have earned a slap from one of his coaches as a reminder of never to throw an opponent – no matter their calibre – a bone to chew on for motivation.
But the reality is everyone expects the Crusaders to stuff the Sunwolves into the blender.
Even when taking into account that Crusaders coach Scott Robertson may elect to run some of his second-stringers, Sunwolves have little hope of bowling the title holders at AMI Stadium.
Meanwhile, All Blacks Owen Franks and Israel Dagg will finally fire up their engines in Super Rugby on Saturday.
While that news won’t encourage a burst of enthusiastic applause by the Sunwolves, the fact tighthead prop Franks and fullback/wing Dagg are finally set to represent the Crusaders in Christchurch will generate a much warmer response from multiple parties in New Zealand.
No-one will be more pleased than Franks and Dagg themselves.
The pair haven’t played first-class rugby for eight and seven months respectively, not since All Blacks coach Steve Hansen declared they must take an enforced break to attend to injuries: Franks required surgery on an Achilles tendon, and Dagg had to rehabilitate a serious knee problem.
Tony Brown, left, and Jamie Joseph face a daunting task with the winless Sunwolves.