Long-serving Silver Ferns coach Ruth Aitken will be at the helm of the Northern Mystics next year after Debbie Fuller vacated the role for family reasons.
Aitken, who ended a decade-long reign as national coach at last year's world championships, has signed a one-year contract as head coach of the Auckland-based franchise. Fuller will stay on in an assistant coach role, focusing on defence.
Mystics chief executive Julie Paterson understood Fuller's reasons for downgrading her role and believed her combination with Aitken could be a very strong one.
"Ruth brings over 10 years international coaching experience to the role, including two Commonwealth Games gold medals and a world championship," Paterson said on the Mystics website.
"We believe we have an extraordinary management line-up and we are really excited about what they will produce both on and off the court."
Paterson said it was important to have the coaching line-up settled and in place so the players knew who they would be working with.
Aitken will take leave from her coaching director role at Netball New Zealand next year.
A priority now was to contract players for the Mystics' 2013 campaign.
"There's always something about coaching at the coal face that really appeals, so this was an amazing opportunity. It was a real surprise and I'm delighted to be able to help," Aitken said.
Former Silver Fern Fuller reversed the Mystics' fortunes during her two years in charge.
They reached the final last year, where they lost to the Queensland Firebirds.
This season they finished second in the regular season but exited after playoff losses to the Melbourne Vixens and eventual champions the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic.Fuller said the head coach role didn't fit while she had three young children to care for, including two pre-schoolers.