Netball: No division of loyalties for Foster

Margaret Foster
Margaret Foster
It is her home court but Steel assistant coach Margaret Foster will be on the other side of the floor and barracking for her new side when it plays the Tactix in Christchurch today.

The former Flames coach probably could not ever imagine herself supporting a combined Otago-Southland side against Canterbury but times have changed. Coaches, and players for that matter, have to be more flexibly about their loyalties in the semi-professional era, she said.

"You just have to go where your professionalism takes you," Foster said.

"I've got some really good friends in the Tactix camp, and I think we will always be friends. I'm going to find it different going into the other changing room and sitting on the other side of the court."

Foster, who survived a public battle with breast cancer, missed out on the job as Tactix coach last year but leapt at the opportunity to get involved in the ANZ Championship this season when the assistant role became available with Donna Wilkins opting to return to the court.

There were a few raised eyebrows at the thought of Foster working with Steel coach Robyn Broughton. The pair locked horns during the now defunct National Bank Cup, with Broughton's Sting coming out on top.

But so far the combination seems to be working well, with the Steel lying just outside the top four on three wins from five matches.

A win today would entrench the Steel as the second-best of the New Zealand teams. And, with the way the competition is structured, that is important for the Steel's semifinal prospects, Foster said.

"It is absolutely crucial in respect to achieving our goal off making the top four. But we've got to ensure that in every game we play we are actually improving and I think we've been doing that. The girls have trained really well this week."

The New Zealand teams play each other twice and the Australian teams once, and vice-versa. That format leans itself to two New Zealand and two Australian teams making the play-offs.

For the Tactix the game is must-win. The Canterbury side has one win from five matches and is in ninth place.

The team showed signs of improvement in its last outing against the Magic. It lost by two goals but it gave the Cantabrians some confidence. However, the Tactix had a bye last week and that may have robbed some of their momentum.

The Steel, on the other hand, have had a short turnaround.

They beat the Mystic 61-52 in Auckland on Monday night.

"It is a short turnaround and you have to tweak your training and read how the players are feeling. If they are coming in a little bit tired then obviously you don't do a two-hour stint, you chop it back."

That has not been the case, though, Foster said.

The camp is sound in body and mind and eager to build on the win against the Mystics.

"In the professional era you have to get used to playing back-to-back."

Foster expects the Tactix will throw everything at the Steel and believes they will attack on defence through England defender Sonia Mkoloma and promising goal defender Charlotte Kight.

Former Otago Rebels shooter Jodi Brown has been in good form and the Tactix have a talented midcourt including Julie Seymour and Maree Bowden.

Ominously, though, Wilkins found her range last week and, with Daneka Wipiiti also in the shooting circle, the Steel should have the edge.



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