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Dunedin-based coach Janine Southby and Invercargill's Natalie Avellino were yesterday appointed co-coaches of the combined Otago-Southland team, replacing the experienced Robyn Broughton, who had been at the helm, after four years.
Both coaches are excited about working with each other and see their joint appointment as a positive outcome. But, like all marriages, communication will be the key to success.
"Natalie and I are probably a bit different in how we approach things but we've both got our strengths which we bring to the table," Southby told the Otago Daily Times.
"The biggest thing is we are both quite open to working together and building a partnership. I think the support we will offer each other will be fantastic.
"Obviously, we're not going to agree on everything. But we've got some pretty strong foundations to make really good decisions," the New Zealand under-21 coach added.
"I think it's going to be a great partnership - we're smart enough and experienced enough to work with our strengths to develop a successful team culture both on and off the court," she said in a statement.
For Southby, the ANZ Championship represents a step up in class. Following in Robyn Broughton's footsteps was also pretty daunting as well, she said.
"I totally respect Robyn and all she has done with the Sting and the Steel over the years," the 42-year-old said.
"I was lucky enough to work with her last year [at the fastnet series in England]. I have no illusion as to what Natalie and I are stepping into and how we are going to be judged and compared.
"It is a big step up from what I've done with the under-21s. I've got a pretty good idea what it will be like, but until you get into that arena you just never know exactly how it is going to be.
"But the grounding I've had through under-21s and the high performance environment should stand me in good stead."
Southby was keen to remain in her national role and the Steel board was happy for her to continue. Links like that can be invaluable, and asked if there would be some new faces in the squad next year, Southby responded: "Watch this space".
"I'm halfway through a four-year campaign with the under-21s and am pretty excited with what I'm starting to see from these players." Southby (nee Brown) grew up in Dunedin and is married to Roger. The couple have two daughters, Grace (7) and Ella (5).
So the Columbia College physical education teacher has a busy life but, with careful organisation and good planning, she hopes commuting between Dunedin and Invercargill will not prove too hectic.
Some of the finer details of how the season will be structured have not been worked out yet.
The Steel board is keen to increase its profile in Dunedin and it would not be a surprise if Southby spent the bulk of the week working with the Dunedin-based players.
The Southby file
Name: Janine Southby
Married to: Roger with two daughters, Grace (7) and Ella (5)
Playing career: Western Flyers 1997-2001, Otago Rebels 2002-03
Coaching career: Otago Rebels 2006-07, New Zealand under-21 2010 to present