Kiwi legend Broughton ready for Mavericks season opener
PUBLISHED: 12:25 16 February 2017 | UPDATED: 12:47 17 February 2017
Hertfordshire Mavericks’ Robyn Broughton says “unfinished business” led her decision to take up the joint role as head coach and director of netball for the upcoming 2017 Vitality Superleague season.
The Herts Sports Village side contest the opening match of the new campaign on Friday, welcoming Team Northumbria to Hatfield, with former New Zealand head coach Broughton taking sole charge for the first time, having spent last season as assistant coach to the departed Sam Bird.
Having fought at the top of the table for much of the 2016 season, Mavericks tailed off at the end, losing in the play-off semi-finals to eventual champions Surrey Storm but Broughton said it was a ‘no brainer’ for her to return and continue in Hatfield.
Broughton told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “It [the offer] came out of the blue.
“I had been here as assistant coach to Sam and I think we worked really well and I enjoyed her company and her knowledge of netball.
“I think things went wrong somewhere along the way at the end and we didn’t finish nearly as well [as we should have].
“We lost Joline Henry to injury as she did her ACL (anterior cruciate ligaments) during a match and that was perhaps the biggest thing that affected our performance.
“That [Henry injury] took away our ‘IT’ factor and our vibrancy hugely.
“We didn’t finish as well and we’d hoped so it was a job unfinished.
“I went home and wasn’t coming back because I’ve got family at home, etc...
“Mavericks came to me and we had a long chat and I felt unfinished in the task so that’s how it all came about.
“I talked with my family and here I am again.
“I liked Hertfordshire, the university facilities, everyone at the club is easy to work with and it’s a change from New Zealand so I was happy to come back.”
Having lost the likes of the influential Henry, sharpshooter Sammy Wallace, rising star George Fisher and the excellent Sam May in the close season, Broughton takes charge of a youthful Mavericks side, with an average age of just 23.9, but she is confident her charges have the right blend of characteristics to prosper this year.
She continued: “We’ve selected [the squad] as best we can to get the balance.
“I’m particularly pleased with the young ones who play defensively.
“We haven’t picked up a young shooter or a young goal attack.
“We have the experience of Ashleigh Neal from Australia. She’s played a bit of top flight netball but not as much as some of the other players who are at other franchises.
“I’m quite sure that the team, if the enthusiasm can be maintained and improvement can be made each week, we can find our own way of netball and our own identity.
“I think a lot of that is mental but if we can get that right we’ll have a good season.”
Broughton says the team will take each week as it comes but feels with some hard work and determination they could make the play-offs again this season.
Broughton said: “I talk about winning and winning is important but you play the game to enjoy it.
“I don’t sit at training and always talk about winning because you have to improve and work on things but if we can make gradual improvements week by week there’s no reason why we can’t finish in the top four.
“We just have to be prepared enough to win our first game and then make steps and we’ll see where we are at the end of the season.”