Committed to fostering growth in its coaching stocks, Netball South has named a core group to work alongside head coach Georgie Salter during the Beko Netball League campaign.

Eastern’s Dana Bond will be the assistant coach, former Silver Fern Donna Wilkins has been recruited as a specialist coach and Dunedin’s Lana Morrison is the team’s apprentice coach.

In addition, Dunedin’s John Mathias and North Otago’s Abby McKenzie have been selected as observation coaches to attend training sessions. All of the coaches are involved in Netball South’s Performance Coach Programme and testament to the pathway being created.

For Salter, the opportunity to mentor emerging local coaches was instrumental in her decision to be at the helm of the South team.

“That’s the reason I’m doing it – the chance to also coach the coaches. I think it’s brilliant that we can do this,” she said.

Bond was eager to link up with Salter in a new capacity after being previously coached by her when playing in Otago and as captain of Southland’s Lois Muir Challenge team.

“Georgie is an inspiration – an amazing coach with very high standards. She’s a book of knowledge so when you get an opportunity like this you’ve just got to grab it,” she said.

“The Performance Coach Programme last year was fantastic and gave us really good insights so it will be great to expand on what we’ve learned and apply it in a practical sense.”

Wilkins was excited to take her netball career in a new direction.

“I’m keen to get into coaching long term so this is a really good opportunity for me. I love the sport but I’m too old to keep playing so I had to look for a new way to be involved,” she said.

“Georgie is a real character so there won’t be a dull moment. It’s really cool she’s come on board with a real focus and desire to develop coaches. It’s really great to be able to learn from her.

“At the end of the day, there is a lack of coaching in New Zealand netball and if we want the sport to grow we need people who can nurture others and are willing to bring them through the ranks.”

Wilkins, who was a commentator for Sky Sport during last year’s Beko Netball League, was confident the South team would again be a force as it aims to defend the title.

“The core of the team will be there and it will be exciting to see their growth in the second year. This competition will only get stronger and stronger,” she said.

The 16-strong South squad selected in October will complete trials in Dunedin this weekend to secure a spot in the final team.

On Sunday, the squad will take on the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in a pre-season hit out in Oamaru at the Waitaki Recreation Centre at 10am. The game is open to the public.