3 Aug 2016

Magic coach heading back to Sydney

10:43 am on 3 August 2016

Julie Fitzgerald has stepped down as coach of the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic to return home to Sydney, where she will coach Netball NSW's new team in the Australian domestic league from next year.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald (right) and Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic coach Julie Fitzgerald (right) and Silver Ferns captain Casey Kopua. Photo: Photosport

It's a loss for the Magic, with Fitzgerald taking them to the ANZ Championship Finals Series every year since she took over as coach in 2014.

But it's also another blow to New Zealand netball, with Fitzgerald's move coming directly after the defection of Noeline Taurua, who is leaving the Southern Steel for the new Sunshine Coast franchise in Australia.

Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty chief executive, Tim Hamilton, says while they are disappointed to lose a coach of the calibre and standing of Fitzgerald, they are thankful for the role she has played and her commitment to developing Netball in the region.

"It was been a real privilege to work with Julie these past three years," Hamilton said.

"She is a true professional, always has the best interests of her players at heart and has been an absolute asset to Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty.

"She leaves us with our best wishes and we thank her family whole-heartedly for allowing us to have her for as long we did - she will always be part of the Magic family."

Fitzgerald said she will miss New Zealand and the Magic family, however she says she's excited by the new opportunity.

"I am honoured and thrilled to be returning to New South Wales at such an exciting time for netball," Fitzgerald said.

"I am NSW born and bred and the opportunity to be part of setting up a new team in my home State was one I couldn't turn down.

"I have loved every minute of my time in New Zealand and will be eternally grateful to all of the wonderful people I met and worked with there, but for me this is a chance to go home and be part of a wonderful new adventure and a chance to build something unique.

"Not everyone gets the chance to help create a new team and club culture and working with local talent is something that always has, and continues to, excite me."

The Magic will now start the search for a new coach ahead of next year's new New Zealand domestic competition.