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Rookie coach learns new netball ropes

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 14/09/2016 Cathy Walshe

It's not only on-court that the Jamaican netball team are looking to the future in developing their next tier of talent.

The Sunshine Girls have brought a largely inexperienced team to New Zealand for a three-Test series against the world No.2 Silver Ferns.

Only a handful of last year's squad which finished fourth at the netball World Cup have made the journey, towering shooters Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Romelda Aiken among the most notable absentees.

As well as blooding a new batch of players, the Jamaicans are also looking to develop coaching depth, and have a familiar figure sitting alongside coach Minneth Reynolds.

One-time 75-cap wing defence Sasher-Gaye Henry has completed a whirlwind turnaround to take over duties as assistant coach for the New Zealand tour.

It's only been a year since 34-year-old Henry played for Jamaica, but she says she knew it was time to call it quits.

"My decision came because I think I knew the time had come where the body can no longer allow me to play at this level," she told NZ Newswire.

"It was the right time to bow out - it was my time to leave."

Watching from the sidelines has been challenging, as the rookie Jamaicans have, not unexpectedly, struggled against the Silver Ferns.

Beaten 72-34 in the first Test on Sunday, they brought more intensity to the second in Palmerston North on Wednesday, but still fell significantly short in losing 61-38.

Defensively, Jamaica lifted after the New Zealanders had dictated terms in the attacking third in the first Test, but Henry says there's still plenty to work on ahead of the third match in Rotorua on Saturday.

"We can still work on our balance, our communication and our decision-making."

Henry admits she's found her new role frustrating - "I want to be out there helping them" - but says it's satisfying being able to bring her 10 years of international experience to help prepare the new generation.

"Although I'm a very young coach at this level, the experience I've had playing over the years has helped me understand and recognise the work they need to do.

"I really want to give it my best, and do the work to get better."

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