COACH: Noeline Taurua is in charge of the Sunshine Coast-based team.
COACH: Noeline Taurua is in charge of the Sunshine Coast-based team. Sandra Mu/Getty

High expectation for our new team in national netball league


NETBALL: The coach of the Sunshine Coast-based team which is set to compete in a new-look national league says nothing less than a semi-finals appearance will do.

The name and brand of the franchise, which is run by Melbourne Storm and the University of the Sunshine Coast, was revealed on Wednesday.

It is known as the Sunshine Coast Lightning.

It's one of three new outfits geared to play in next year's eight-team competition, alongside Australian clubs from the disbanded trans-Tasman ANZ Championship.

Noeline Taurua, who is widely regarded as New Zealand's most successful club mentor, has high expectations of the unit in its maiden campaign.

"I've never coached a team that hasn't been in a semi-finals spot, the top four, and I've never been anything less than a third so I don't expect to start now," she told the Daily.

"I think we are on the backfoot because we don't have a base of players to start off with but I also believe we have a point of difference from other franchises."

The 48-year-old believes the region itself should act as a lure to high-quality players.

"The Sunshine Coast is so beautiful, who wouldn't want to live here?

"And the training base is attached to the university...and education is very important for players as they look into careers post-netball."

The franchise is in discussions with players but deals can't be finalised until key stakeholders finalise the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.

With the backing of powerhouse rugby league club Storm and with high-class facilities, she expects the team to trouble established outfits like juggernaut Queensland Firebirds.

"I'm quite confident with the product we have and I'm confident that it is going to be a competitive team," she said.

"I don't expect anything less than a top-four placing in the first instance. And if I can get players that I want, there should be no reason why we couldn't be in the grand final, but knowing there will be a lot of work to do to get to that stage."

Taurua's appointment as coach should attract players.

The former Silver Fern, who played 34 Tests, is the only coach to lead a New Zealand side (Waikato/Bay of Plenty) to an ANZ Championship (in 2012.). She boasts a 72% winning record in that competition and claimed the minor premiership with Southern Steel this year.

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