29 Oct 2020

Tony Brown turns to Silver Ferns for secret to success

2:09 pm on 29 October 2020

New Highlanders coach Tony Brown wants to make an impact at the franchise and he wants to do it quickly, so he's turned to the Silver Ferns' coaches to learn how they did it.

Tony Brown

Highlanders coach Tony Brown Photo: Photosport

With the Highlanders finishing fourth in this year's Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, Brown wants to improve the side's performances.

He is in Hamilton observing how Silver Ferns' head coach Dame Noeline Taurua and assistant Debbie Fuller run their high performance environment, how they connect their team, and prepare for Test matches.

Coaches observing other sports is not uncommon but it was the dramatic turnaround in the Silver Ferns' performances since the 2018 Commonwealth Games capitulation that really sparked his interest.

"It's the environment that Noeline and Deb have created, they've made a massive improvement over the last two years and how they've done that and what I can learn from that to take to my environment ...I don't think too many coaches have made this big of an improvement in any sport," Brown said.

"There had to be something pretty huge around changing the environment and changing the culture and creating a high performance environment - that's what I'm here to try and find out what it was and how they operate."

Brown, who is also an assistant coach of Japan, went to the Ferns' Test against England last night and was quite surprised with what he saw.

"First game of [elite] netball I've watched live and I was very impressed with the physicality and speed and what's required on the netball court. That was a bit of an eye opener for me because watching on TV you don't actually see the physical side of the game." .

He then sat through the team's review this morning.

"You know [they discussed] what they were disappointed in and what they felt they did well and where they need to go for the next performance. So far it's been pretty exciting for myself to learn how they operate.

"I think they are always straight [with each other] especially with Noeline in charge, you know everyone knows what's required, there's no grey I suppose, it's always black and white around how they are going."

New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua with Debbie Fuller and Reinga Bloxham.

New Zealand coach Dame Noeline Taurua with Debbie Fuller and Reinga Bloxham. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Brown is also in Hamilton with Highlanders strength and conditioning coach Simon Jones, who has worked with a lot of elite netballers over the years.

Jones also drew on netball when he helped Japan head coach Jamie Joseph beef up the Brave Blossoms in the lead up to last year's Rugby World Cup.

"I think Jonesy he trained the Southern Steel for quite a while and has been involved with NZ under 21s as well I think so he knows all these girls and quite a lot of the management so it's been quite good having him here to bridge the gap."

Brown will observe how the side translate this morning's review, implement it on the training court, and how they can improve their performance in the second test on Friday.

What's really impressed him so far is the direction.

"It's the connection and the clarity of how everyone operates, everyone knows where they stand and they know what's right and what's wrong."