Henare offers help but price not rightSave
By Anendra Singh
Tall Blacks and New Zealand Breakers coach Paul Henare offered to help mentor the Hawks a day after Kirstin Daly-Taylor resigned but the Hawke's Bay franchise declined his proposal because they couldn't afford him.
"What I thought I was asking for was pretty fair and reasonable so that was it really," says Henare, revealing he had sought clearances from the Breakers as well as Basketball New Zealand to fulfil the interim coaching role here over the seven-week window.
The Napier-born says he was coming from a position where if he could help he would have.
Responding on whether his demands were inequitable, Henare says: "Oh no, I don't think so. Look, to be honest, I would have come down to help, anyway."
He says it was tough sitting there watching the Hawks caught up in the doldrums of the National Basketball League (NBL). The team had registered one win from 25 matches, dating back to a winless last winter, when Daly-Taylor departed on April 25 after a calamitous loss to the Canterbury Rams in Napier.
"I consider myself really close to Kirstin so I would always offer support to her and I hoped that she was getting all the help she needed as well, which was my main concern as well because you never know what's going on from outside looking in."
In terms of getting back to him, Henare says it was a tepid "yeah-thanks-but-no-thanks" response from the franchise so he didn't receive any hint of interest as such.
"I said to them, 'Look, I don't plan on doing it for free so I would need for it to work' and I had a couple of stipulations there.
"All of that was over-the-phone stuff so we never got to the stage of negotiating or anything like that."
The last thing he wants is to make life difficult for the Hawks and he was quite taken aback with the lack of engagement.
"I just wanted the team to do well," says the 38-year-old former Hawks coach/captain who had spoken with franchise general manager Kevin Wagg after, it is understood, a former board member of the previous franchise, David Aflallo, approached Henare.
His appointment would certainly have filled the Pettigrew-Green Arena in Taradale, which this season draws a near-50 per cent crowd on gold-coin donations.
Henare believes Daly-Taylor is more than capable of coaching at the NBL level.
Franchise board member Ben Hill, a former Tall Black and Hawks player who led the amateur Hawke's Bay second-tier team to victory last season, has taken over as caretaker coach.
"I've been working with Kirstin for a long time. Actually I played under her as a head coach and she'd done a great job with us. I think it was in 2003 when I was her assistant coach as well," says Henare.
While not privy to the inside runnings of the Hawks, he says he knows co-skippers Jarrod Kenny and Everard Bartlett have respect for her built over time so there's a possibility other players may not have had that privilege.
"That's not me saying the other guys don't respect her but the two leaders of the group really do have respect for Kirstin."
Moving on, Henare says he has suggested to the franchise it needs to bring on board Hastings-born Paora Winitana from next season.
"I'm not sure what their plan is with Benny and that. Benny's done a good job, you know, considering he got thrown in in the last minute," he says of Hill who immediately led the Hawks to back-to-back victories over James Blond Super City Rangers on the road a day after accepting the role and at home against battlers Mike Pero Nelson Giants.
But that bubble burst with losses away to SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks and at home to the Rangers last Saturday night.
"I wasn't even aware that Benny was coaching," he says.
Henare left the Hawks in 2012 after Bay businessman Rod Earnshaw stepped down as the franchise owner.
"I just didn't get a good feel for the security of my future and, again, it was just another timing thing so the Southland job came up and I applied for that and got it.
"I was working fulltime for the Hawks and during the process of [the franchise ownership] changing hands they weren't in a position to make any concrete offers," he says, highlighting the priorities of his young family had taken precedence.