16 Oct 2019

Australia netball coach sings the New Zealand national anthem

10:06 am on 16 October 2019

Australian netball coach Lisa Alexander will notch a century of matches for the Diamonds tonight when they take on the Silver Ferns in Auckland.

Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander

Lisa Alexander Photo: Photosport Ltd 2016 www.Photosport.nz

In a neat piece of symmetry, it's also the 150th match between the trans-Tasman rivals.

The coincidence hasn't gone unnoticed or unappreciated by Alexander, a history buff and New Zealand fan who's been known to burst into song during the wrong anthem.

"When I stand out on that line, signing our anthem, I can sing yours as well," she said ahead of game two of the Constellation Cup series.

"I know it so well, even when the All Blacks are playing I have to go 'come on Lisa, you're barracking for the Wallabies'. I love New Zealand. I can't help it!"

Alexander's journey to 100 games is worth saluting.

Appointed in 2011 to replace the legendary Norma Plummer, the Victorian was the first woman to take the job who hadn't played for her national team.

She inherited a world champion team but remade the culture with the ethos drawn from her teaching profession, going on to win Commonwealth Games and World Cup gold during her first attempts.

Players today don't know a Diamonds team without Alexander at the helm, and probably don't want to.

"Lisa's had so much success with this group and the group before us," vice captain Liz Watson said.

"I'm sure all the girls in the era before us will be cheering her on on Wednesday.

"We look to the side and see how passionate Lisa is for us. Every training, every game, she's up cheering. So 100 games is very special."

Australia coach Lisa Alexander

Lisa Alexander Photo: Photosport

Alexander can't quite remember her first match in charge - a straight-forward win over England in Newcastle in October 2011.

"I was probably scared. I would have been 47 at the time ... with all the Australian netball eyes on me," she said.

"I can tell you they're pretty harsh. The journey's been not easy.

"Us coaches get it. That's just part of the job. I'm a grandmother now. Older and wiser."

Her opposing coach for game 100, Silver Ferns boss Noeline Taurua, saluted Alexander's longevity.

"It's very difficult being an elite coach to survive for so long and also be in the front of your game," she said.

"She's been very successful and from my perspective, a person that I've always looked up to.

"Hopefully that those fires will also (stoke) that game."

While Alexander said she was proud of the "fantastic achievement", both her and Watson said it wasn't a part of the pre-match build-up.

"Always what I say to (my players) is just, I want them to do well," she said.

"I just love this group. It's a privilege to work with young people like this, it's fantastic.

"They can pour Gatorade over me at the end of the game or do whatever they like. As long as they win."