Dame Noeline Taurua wins Coach of the Year at the Halberg Awards adding to an already successful year for the netball legend.
It’s been 16 years since the sport has ever seen a national head coach win the prestigious award in New Zealand sports, however, you’d have to agree Dame Taurua is in a league of her own.
First, receiving the news in 2018 that she will take over the reins from former coach Janine Southby who suffered a heavy blow in a disastrous campaign with the Silver Ferns at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, to which the Ferns finished fourth and also losing to Malawi in the round games.
Dame Taurua was the force the Ferns needed to help lift the profile and mana of the team back up.
With only 11 months to work her magic, she brought in the likes of Laura Langman who was dropped in 2016 for playing in Australia which made her ineligible to represent New Zealand and taking Casey Kopua out of international retirement.
The stage was also set when Dame Taurua and Netball New Zealand brought in a new format that would lift the game to new heights, making the Ferns compete against the New Zealand netball men's team in the Cadbury Series.
The standard among her players was already evident only losing to the mens by four goals in game 1 just two weeks out of the world cup tour to the UK.
Her main objective was rotating her 12 players to ensure each player was conditioned properly heading into the latter stage of the tournament.
Now, in previous years former head coaches were known to stick to their starting line-up players. This sparked positive feedback amongst the public and the media, ensuring that Dame Taurua was making the right calls.
Their first hurdle in their new strip was redeeming their mana against Malawi since their surprising loss to them at Commonwealth Games and defeating England on the home turf. However, in the finals against Australia, it was a testament that Dame Taurua was the difference in the end.
The triumphant win has paid dividends for the Ferns when she was to be made a dame since the announcements in the New Year’s Honours List.
Following on from her successes was the more recent series against England, Jamaica and South Africa in the Nations Cup. Sealing all victories including the finals to kick start the year on a high.