Lisa Alexander’s future as Diamonds head coach is under threat. Picture: Getty
Lisa Alexander’s future as Diamonds head coach is under threat. Picture: Getty

Diamonds coach admits job in jeopardy

LISA Alexander concedes the axe could be hovering after her all-conquering Diamonds failed to win a second major tournament running.

Australia were again denied gold by the slightest of margins on Sunday, outplayed by New Zealand in a 52-51 World Cup final classic.

Compounding their woes is last year's much-referenced Commonwealth Games final defeat to England, making this the first time since before the 2007 World Cup that the perennial world No.1s haven't held at least one of the two titles.

Alexander's contract was extended last year until the end of 2020, at which point she'll become the Diamonds' longest-serving coach.

The vastly experienced 55-year-old also has the option for a further two years that would take her up to the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

She said the burn of another near miss had motivated her to bring the team back to the top.

However no coach of either Australia or New Zealand has remained after failing to win at least one gold in a four-year cycle, and she intimated a review by the governing body was inevitable.

Australian coach Lisa Alexander. Picture: AAP
Australian coach Lisa Alexander. Picture: AAP

"As a coach, definitely, but we'll have to talk about that later," Alexander said.

"Netball Australia expects success and one of the things I'm judged on is benchmark events. We'll talk about that later."

Making any such conversations trickier is the fact the Diamonds only lost both finals by a single goal, a margin that, had it swung the other way, would almost certainly have cemented Alexander's tenure for the long term.

And yet she herself said only gold would equate to a pass mark in Liverpool for netball's perpetual powerhouse.

Former Diamonds goal attack and three-time world champion Natalie Medhurst pointed to a longer-term pattern.

"It's not a knee-jerk reaction to a one-goal loss because they lost last year as well, so it's been happening for the last 12-18 months.," Medhurst said on Channel 9's coverage.

"It's the flow-on effect because Australia don't want to be in this position, we want to win Comm Games and World Cups. It's not good enough."

The flip side of the narrative is encapsulated in New Zealand coach Noeline Taurua, who could have just about any job she desires after masterminding the Silver Ferns' first World Cup win in 16 years but hasn't committed herself.

Dejected Diamonds after the loss. Picture: Getty
Dejected Diamonds after the loss. Picture: Getty

That her achievement comes 11 months after taking over and 15 months after the Kiwis' shock premature Commonwealth Games exit was all the more remarkable and had Alexander heaping praise on her counterpart.

But Taurua, who was long overlooked for the national-team job, indicated there's no guarantee Netball New Zealand will succeed in their bid to retain her services.

The 51-year-old left the UK yesterday bound for Australia to resume her duties with Sunshine Coast Lightning and said she'll reassess long-term plans in September at the end of the Super Netball season, having juggled the demands of both jobs concurrently.

Her success in guiding the Lightning to two consecutive domestic titles could mean a tug of war between club and country.

"I finish at the end of September and then I am going to chill," Taurua said.

"It has been tiring but I am very committed to both programs to making it happen. At the moment things are up in the air, I just have to make sure I do what is best.

"It's been a hard road and I have a lot of things happening in my life, including my family. I am going to sit back and reflect.

"But I am not going to leave Netball New Zealand or the Lightning in the lurch. I have just got to suss things out."