Janine Southby has resigned as Silver Ferns coach after Netball New Zealand's review into the Ferns' Commonwealth Games debacle revealed a raft of issues during her coaching tenure.
The Silver Ferns sunk to a new low at the Games, losing to Malawi, Jamaica, Australia and England to finish fourth - missing out on a medal for the first time.
Perhaps the most telling sign of the depths they had plunged was that – the Malawi result aside – their defeats weren't a shock. The Ferns won just six of their last 18 games under Southby's reign, and have suffered 11 straight losses to Australia, England and Jamaica.
As a result, Southby, who was contracted until the 2019 World Cup, was always set to be axed, and it appears she has walked before she was pushed.
"I am very sad to have reached this point," Southby said. "I felt we were making steps in the right direction however, I have to acknowledge this hasn't happened as quickly or as well as I would have liked.
"The results we were able to deliver through the transition were unacceptable. As head coach, I have to front up to my own responsibility in producing those results and I have. I'm as gutted as anyone that we couldn't produce the results we aimed for."
Southby finished her Silver Ferns career with a record of 20 wins and 19 losses – the worst winning percentage by a Ferns coach in the last 70 years, and the review panel of Don Mackinnon, Kevin Shoebridge and Linda Vagana revealed that she failed to successfully connect with the team.
Southby positioned herself as a players' coach – moving away from the structured approach favoured by prior regimes and trusting players to help develop game plans and instil a winning culture. However, the review found that "team needed clearer direction, structure and boundaries, on and off the court."
The review also paints a picture of a leader-less culture, with the Ferns squad missing the influence of an earlier exodus of veteran players. The absence of the likes of Casey Kopua, Anna Harrison, Leana De Bruin and Laura Langman was not adequately dealt with, and for eight of the 12 players in the Games squad, they were attending their first major event.
As a result, the review found that the remaining senior players were unable to fill the huge leadership void created, while the lack of experience in the coaching staff was also noted. Southby was deemed to be "too similar" to her assistant coach Yvette McCausland-Durie, lacking the complementary skillsets and experience to be successful at the highest level.
Many of the issues in the Ferns camp were discovered during Southby's tenure, but in the review panel's estimation, Netball NZ should have identified the problems earlier than they did. By the time steps were taken to address the concerns, the effort was far too late to make a material difference to the Commonwealth Games campaign.
More findings are set to be unveiled in a second phase of the review, which is set to be finalised by the end of July, but Netball NZ has already made changes, investing into their high-performance pathway. Netball NZ will re-instate a New Zealand A programme in 2018, with games scheduled against South Africa and England, while former Silver Ferns captain Bernice Mene will join the Netball NZ Board to increase its netball acumen and high performance knowledge.
The process to appoint a new Silver Ferns head coach will commence immediately.