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Gender should be irrelevant, says NSW Swifts netball coach Rob Wright

NSW Swifts coach Rob Wright speaks to his players during a break.

NSW Swifts coach Rob Wright speaks to his players during a break. Photo: SMP Images

He's the ANZ Championship's first male head coach of a team set to play in Canberra's first match, but NSW Swifts coach Rob Wright doesn't view himself as a trailblazer. 

The 45-year-old believes gender should be irrelevant in coaching, and hopes the day will come when female coaches are similarly accepted in elite male teams. 

Wright, who took over from Lisa Beehag this season, developed his netball obsession watching his sisters play and his mother is also a coach. 

"It [being the first male coach] is certainly a huge honour and it is something I get asked about a lot,'' Wright said ahead of NSW's Anzac Day clash with Southern Steel at AIS Arena. 

"My standard line is I hope my ability and knowledge is more important than my gender. 

"If there was going to be a first male in the ANZ Championship, I'm glad it's me.

"To coach in the world's best domestic league is a huge honour, regardless of whether you're male or female.''

Asked if he hoped female coaches would eventually be embraced in men's teams, he said: "I just look at the flip-side of my situation, I think if you're good enough you should have the opportunity. 

"In any sport, I think knowledge and ability should override gender.

"If someone's the best coach for the job they should be the coach, and that's regardless of sport or gender.''

Wright said stepping into the unknown was made easier by his lengthy previous experience as an elite coach.

He coached state representative teams at under-17, 19 and 21 level, was a development coach at NSW Institute of Sport and a Swifts assistant for over 50 games. 

"I guess I'm fortunate because I've been coaching elite netball for 15-plus years, and every NSW girl in our team I've coached previously,'' he said. 

"I'd already had that rapport, which made it much easier. 

"I've never had any issues around that, because I've been around so long now I'm part of the furniture.''

The Swifts [4-3] remain third on a congested ANZ Championship ladder, despite back-to-back losses against competition leader Melbourne Vixens and Queensland.

Wright is looking for a positive reaction from his side against Steel after Sunday's heavy 55-40 defeat to the Firebirds. 

"It was a disappointing loss, the girls were hard on themselves in the debrief and we identified a few things we didn't do well,'' he said. 

"When you're convincingly beaten, it's how you come back in the next game and stand up. 

"I'm a big believer in talk is cheap, you have to go out and perform.''

FRIDAY

ANZ Championship: NSW Swifts v Southern Steel at AIS Arena, 1.48pm (doors open 1pm)

Tickets available from Ticketek. 

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