The Wright side of Netball Coaching with a difference

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Auckland, March 1, 2021

The Northern Mystics Team (Photo by Photosport)

Australian Coach Rob Wright wants to add a point of difference to the Northern Mystics this year, but he does not want it to be about the fact that he is a bloke.

The experienced Australian Coach was announced as Assistant Coach at the Northern Mystics late last year.

Wright, who became a student of the game watching it since his young days, is widely regarded as one of the Game’s most strategic minds.

Mystics Head Coach Helene Wilson will be hoping that he can give her side an edge, in the Team’s quest to lift the ANZ Premiership Trophy.

Wright inspiration

Wright will be New Zealand’s first male Coach at the elite level but he is always been a big believer that it should be around his Coaching ability.

He said that if his appointment at the Mystics inspired other male Coaches in New Zealand, so be it, but that was not what drove him.

“I never wanted to be known as ‘oh it’s that male Coach who got that role,’ I wanted to be known as a really good netball Coach, not a really good male netball Coach if that makes sense. So, I think that you have to really make sure that you really know your stuff, that you earn respect and that takes time,” he said.

Wright becomes animated as soon as he talks about Netball. You can see him actively process information, like a computer crunching the numbers.

The Northern Mystics Team (Photo by Photosport)

The Right time to return

And it is a medium through which he communicates while waiting to find out when he can get to New Zealand.

Wright is at every session through a computer screen.

“I am wired into the Coaches so that they can speak to me. It makes you have to be really succinct when you are not there if you are trying to explain something. It is new but I am loving it. I always like trying to make people better and I’m hoping I can make a real impact there,” he said.

The aim was for Wright to land in New Zealand on January 25, 2021, but there is still no sign of when he would be able to get into the country given the situation with Covid-19.

The Northern Mystics are working hard to try to get Wright in with the help of Netball New Zealand and High-Performance Sport New Zealand.

“The Coaches and the Organisation have embraced me. The players have been wonderful in terms of just taking me for who I am. A bit odd at times, I see things a bit differently but I also hope I can make some real gains for them,” Wright said.

Significant achievements

In 2014, he created history becoming the first male Head Coach in the old Trans-Tasman Netball League when he took over at the New South Wales Swifts.

Wright guided the Swifts to two successive grand finals in 2015 and 2016, just narrowly missing out to the Queensland Firebirds both times.

He later took charge of the Collingwood Magpies in 2019, but it was an unhappier time for Wright at the franchise.

Last year, the Magpies finished last in Australia’s Suncorp Super Netball competition and Wright paid the price when the club dropped him.

Wright said that he has no problem with that outcome.

Winning and Learning

“At the end of the day, the results were poor, they were on me and I paid the price. What I think is really important though is that if you do not win, you must learn. You either win or learn is my philosophy …what it does is make you reflect really hard about what have I learnt.

Certainly, I would have done a lot of things very differently to what I actually did so that is a good reflection for me about how I improve. And it was certainly a tough time for me, certainly after 2019, and 2020 to be brutally honest was a disaster for me and that was of my own making. I had set it up and you know I had set myself up for failure,” Wright said.

He said that his gut feeling was that it would not be the end of his Coaching career.

“I always think that things happen for a reason …I get moved on and I then go, ‘Well, I learn and grow and be better for the next opportunity that arises’ and I am very thankful for the Mystics giving me that opportunity,” he said.

Gratitude to mentors

Wright said that hard work and perseverance have got him to where he is, and he is grateful to mentors who helped him over his career.

He would not hesitate to seize the opportunity to coach the across the Tasman.

“I will look for opportunity where I can use my skills. If people want to under-estimate me or whatever I really love that because I always say, ‘look out’ because I just want to be the best I can and never compare myself to other people I just want to be good and I want to help people,” Wright said.

He loves the hands-on approach to Coaching.

He said that the bonus of being an Assistant Coach was that he got to be creative and ‘come up with stuff that I just come up the top of my head with.’

“Often, as the Head Coach, there is a whole lot of other things that get in the way of that really good stuff. It is important and critical to make the whole process work,” Wright said.

The above article has been published under a special agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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