Opinion: Is culture key to winning major and minor netball championships?

By Taroi Black
Laura Langman and Katrina Rore giving each other a handshake / Netball NZ

Australian shooter Caitlin Thwaites played her last international netball game, however, the only acknowledgement she received from players in the fourth test of the Constellation Cup was from Silver Ferns Legend Laura Langman.

Thwaites, 32, debuted for the Diamonds in 2009. However, her playing career in the green and gold was short-lived until her transformation in 2012 when the Victorian netballer crossed the ditch to play for the Central Pulse in the ANZ Championships. That led to 55 international tests for the Diamonds.

But it came as a shock when Thwaites called it quits on her international career three days before the match decider in Perth against the Ferns.  

Now after losing the last two major tournaments (Commonwealth Games and Netball World Cup), Australia who previously dominated the sport may be struggling with team cohesion and cultural elements.  

During today’s Constellation Cup presentation, Australian Captain Caitlin Bassett did not mention her retiring teammate at all. But, in general, sports traditionally have some form of acknowledgement of retiring players. 

Maria Folau, who played in her 150th test match for her country, was notably seen with tears in her eyes as Langman acknowledged her achievements. Teammates around her may have given the arena the impression that she also could be retiring from the sport.  

Katrina Rore was interviewed by Sky Sports ahead of the deciding match about the importance and value to players and coaches of a strong team culture, especially after the New Zealand defender experienced the highs and lows of the game during the last two years.

The Silver Ferns reinvented the team culture through the guidance of Coach Noeline Taurua and her assistant Debbie Fuller prior to their world cup campaign. The transformation resulted in a world cup victory that ultimately changed the face of NZ netball which was on the decline.