21 Sep 2018

Former Silver Ferns coach says improvement is the key for Noeline Taurua's side

8:08 am on 21 September 2018

Former Silver Ferns coach Yvonne Willering believes the focus needs to be on improvement, not a win, when the Silver Ferns face world number ones Australia on Sunday.

Noeline Taurua celebrates her first win Silver Ferns head coach

Noeline Taurua celebrates her first win Silver Ferns head coach Photo: © www.Photosport.nz 2018

When a coach wants improvement more than a win it's a sign of one's philosophy.

Former Silver Ferns coach Yvonne Willering believes the way in which Noeline Taurua has performed so far as the eleventh Silver Ferns coach has reflected her philosophy that she has built over time with the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

While Willering can relate to Taurua on many levels as a former head coach and becoming one of New Zealand's most successful domestic coaches, Taurua brings an element no former coach has ever had - coaching an Australian franchise to victory and working closely with their national side.

While glamour surrounds Taurua after winning the Super Netball title two years in a row this year's trophy didn't come easy, in fact, no one thought they would even qualify for the finals series.

To switch from favourite to underdog at the highest level is a string Taurua can add to her bow and Willering says the potential to learn from experience like this is exciting for the Silver Ferns.

"She's still not talking about winning she still talks about taking it game at a time and constantly the improvement in the team," says Willering

"You have to appreciate that she has a different coaching philosophy to others, the players are starting to get used to it and certainly the combination work is far different."

"That intensity is obviously something she has with the Lightning in Australia - she's trying to fit that mold into the Ferns now."

With a 50 percent success rate the results so far are nothing to be ashamed of. If anything it gives Taurua a solid foundation to work with looking ahead to Australia who they will face on Sunday.

Laura Langman

Laura Langman Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Willering coached the Silver Ferns between 1997 and 2001 and knows all too well the feeling and preparation involved ahead of a team of their caliber and says Taurua's changes so far gives confidence that this work in progress is on an upward climb.

"The skill level at international level should be there so really it's just about the understanding of each other and combinations," says Willering

"The testing point will surely be Australia because they have been together for some time and not just the fact that it's Australia, it will be interesting to see how they go against that."

Under Willering, Taurua served as New Zealand's goal attack and who better than her to steer a seasoned shooter like Maria Folau.

The strategy of positioning Folau under the hoop against South Africa indicative that while the spectacle of her long shots 'wow' the world, it's the team's cohesiveness that takes precedence - something after 13 years Folau is learning under Taurua.

"That predictability has to be lost, we have got predictable over time we had set shooting combinations and set defensive combinations and that is something she will want to change," says Willering

"Whether she ends up with a team of 12 time will tell but certainly she will have some different combinations available and that mental toughness is something she will bring to the team."

Silver Ferns Michaela Sokolich-Beatson.

Silver Ferns Michaela Sokolich-Beatson. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The decision Netball New Zealand made to appoint Taurua as head coach was a stroke of genius looking at this weekend's match against Australia. The Diamond's Steph Wood, Caitlin Bassett and Kelsey Brown make up a formidable attacking end and have all played under Taurua for the past two seasons at the Lightning.

Although it's an advantage to know key players style of play, Willering says composure in matches like this is key.

"Right now Noeline is in quite a good position where the win isn't what she will be judged on, that'll come later, right now she will be judged on this team's improvement," says Willering

"She's not going to go in that game against Australia just wanting to win. More importantly it's about the combination work the understanding between players and making sure it is another step up so the focus is still very much still on the Ferns."

The Silver Ferns will face the Australian Diamonds in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon in the final match of the international Quad Series.