Key positions behind the scenes

The ASB Otago Sports Awards continue with sports writer Adrian Seconi profiling the three finalists in the Video Tech Team Support Person of the Year category. It is a new award this year for those who are in key roles with teams.

Hayden Croft

Hayden Croft. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Hayden Croft. Photo: Peter McIntosh

Hayden Croft does his best work from the top row of the bleachers.

But do not let his proximity fool you. The Silver Ferns performance analyst can still have an impact on what is happening on court.

He was called into the Silver Ferns camp when Noeline Taurua replaced Janine Southby following a bitterly disappointing Commonwealth Games campaign.

The pair had worked together at the Steel and Taurua knew all too well the added value of a good numbers man.

It was her role to turn the team around and turn the team around she did. New Zealand stunned Australia 52-51 in the final of the World Cup just 15 months after the fourth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games.

Taurua was seen as the key but behind every coaching instinct she had was a statistic supplied by Croft to help back her up.

Croft earned his stripes as the performance analyst for the Steel from 2012 and has developed the role to the point where he is arguably the leading netball performance analyst in the world.

Chris Donaldson


Chris Donaldson. Photo: Getty Images
Chris Donaldson. Photo: Getty Images
Chris Donaldson’s introduction as the Black Caps strength and conditioning trainer in 2011 was a long way from the running track.

But the former Olympic sprinter’s reputation as a quality trainer was already well established.

He had a short stint with the Otago Volts before his promotion and had also worked with the New Zealand Winter Olympic team, the Silver Ferns, Otago Rowing and the New Zealand A team.

The public probably underestimates the value of fitness in cricket. There appears to be a lot of standing around and even sitting down involved. But those a little more seasoned are only too aware of the link between a fit team and a winning team.

At a tournament like a World Cup, strength and conditioning is vital. Donaldson has helped New Zealand reach the final of the past two World Cups and that is testament to his skill.

And how many of those catches around the edge of the boundary has he also contributed to simply by getting the players fit enough to get there?

Peter Gallagher

Peter Gallagher. Photo: Getty Images
Peter Gallagher. Photo: Getty Images

He is handy that Pete.

So handy the All Blacks have kept physiotherapist Peter Gallagher on the payroll for the past 15 years.

That is a long time in one role by today’s standards. And think about it. The 51-year-old spends all week patching up the players only for them to go out and smash each other around at the weekend.

That must be a bit like digging a hole then filling it back up again.

Then repeating steps one through to two again and again and again.

But Gallagher would not have it any other way. It is his dream job and he is very good at it.

He got his start with All Blacks in 2005 and has been to four World Cups — two of them ended very well.

In 2011 it was almost a fulltime job just putting first five-eighths back together again.

Gallagher established his reputation as a quality physio while with the Highlanders from 2000 to 2005.

He has never looked back and has become an integral cog in the All Black machine.

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