Netball: Taurua looks for win in 100th game

The Southern Steel has its sights set on winning this year's ANZ Championship and its coach, Noeline Taurua, would not have it any other way.

The supremely successful former Magic coach, who took over from Janine Southby at the Steel at the start of this year, will bring up her 100th game in charge in the transtasman competition when her unbeaten side takes on the Mystics in Dunedin tomorrow.

Taurua has a 71% winning record from 99 games in the tournament, having guided the Magic to New Zealand's only title in 2012.

The Magic made the playoffs in each of her six years in charge, reaching the final on two other occasions.

Taurua took a break from coaching in 2014 before returning to help guide the Mystics to the New Zealand conference final as their assistant coach last year.

With such a successful record, the master coach came to the southern region used to winning, and saw no reason why that should change at the Steel.

"Because I've been with the Magic for such a long time, and had one year with the Mystics last year, we pretty much had the mindset that we were going to be an ANZ contender no matter what, being in the top four then looking to win the competition.

"That never changed from year to year.

"That's how I believe that we [the Steel] needed to be. There's always been a great team culture here, but it was about laying down that mindset and helping change the culture around performance.

"It's about being consistent each week and working out what's required to win and what level of training we need to do for us to be able to perform on court.''

The Steel won just three games last year but Taurua was aware many of the side's losses were by only a few goals and things could have been much better.

With six wins and a draw from seven matches this year, the Steel is well placed to top the New Zealand conference and make the overall top four, but Taurua will not be settling for that.

The top three sides from each conference qualify for the first week of the playoffs, despite the Australian conference being significantly stronger overall.

"With the ANZ [championship] changing to Australian and New Zealand conferences, this, in some respect, has inflated New Zealand as to its performance [in qualifying for playoffs] and the quality of its performances on court,'' she said.

"And I put ourselves in that boat.

"Last year, we [the Steel] won three games and still managed to make the top three.

"Winning ANZ is the goal and the first part of that is getting our [performance] numbers up there; it's not about resting on being in the New Zealand conference as our saving grace.''

Statistically, the Steel was tracking as well as Australian front runners the Firebirds and Swifts this season, but the side would only get a true indication of where it was at when it played those sides, she said.

Winning the title with the Magic was the highlight of Taurua's coaching career, though moving to the Steel had been a welcome change and had reignited her passion for coaching.

She had not given any thought to what she would do next year, or to putting her hand up in the future for the Silver Ferns coaching job, for which she was again overlooked last season.

The Mystics have won just two matches from eight this season but have a powerful line-up and are sure to provide a stern challenge for the Steel.

Silver Fern Kayla Cullen is again unavailable due to injury, while Holly Fowler is also out injured.

Elisapeta Toeava retains her place in the squad for Cullen and Kate Burley comes in for Fowler.

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