Women’s staff confirmed for season two

Wellington Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence has a new-look backroom staff for the 2022-23 Liberty A-League season.

Lawrence and strength and conditioning coach Daniel Gordon are the only members of last season’s inaugural management team still with the Nix.

“I don’t know where I’d be without Dan,” Lawrence said. “He’s an incredible sport scientist and strength and conditioning coach, but he’s so much more than that to the team.

“Before we had any staff it was just me and Dan and we could use our experiences of last year, FFDP (Future Ferns Domestic Programme) and the under-20s to build how the team was going to play.

“We’re really lucky that we can still have him.”

Ryan Ego has been appointed goalkeeper coach, joining the previously announced Callum Holmes (assistant coach) and Maia Vink (analyst) in the coaching set-up.

Eilish Graves has come on board as the team’s operations manager, while Suzy Falconer and Brooklyn Innes are the women’s new physiotherapist and kit manager respectively.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – SEPTEMBER 30: Head coach Natalie Lawrence speaks to media during a Wellington Phoenix A-League Womens media opportunity at Fraser Park on September 30, 2022 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

“It’s great having everyone in,” Lawrence said.

“We know the environment can be a bit of a pressure cooker at times, but we’re all getting on really well and we’ve all got an appreciation and respect for each other’s roles.

“The players are really enjoying having some new faces and some new voices as well and that’s really important.”

Ego brings a wealth of experience to the goalkeeping coach role and is familiar with the Phoenix organisation.

He was the academy’s head of goalkeeping for two and a half years from June 2019 to the end of 2021.

“Ryan was actually my goalkeeper coach when I came back to New Zealand in 2018 and took the Team Wellington youth team,” Lawrence said.

“He’s got a proven track record and he’s a great fit.”

New women’s operations manager Eilish Graves with Nixie ahead of the men’s A-League match against Central Coast Mariners in April. Credit: Photomac.

Graves joins the Phoenix women from the academy, where she has looked after operations and communications since June last year.

She initially joined the academy as a community officer and has led the award-winning Football For All programme.

“Eilish is amazing. Her brain works so differently to mine. She’s so organised and does things before you even think they need doing.”

Falconer is already well acquainted with most of the Phoenix women’s squad.

She has been the lead physiotherapist for the FFDP for the past two and a half years and was the physio for the Junior Football Ferns at the recent 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

“There are definitely more players she knows than she doesn’t. She’s incredibly thorough…and Suzy will be amazing for the team.”

And Innes has joined the Phoenix from Canterbury University, where she’s finishing her degree in sport coaching, majoring in sport science.

“Brooklyn has just come in and made the role her own. She has a really keen eye for detail, and she’s made our lives so easy.

“With her interest in sport science she can also help Dan prepare the players for training and games, and fully immerse herself in all areas of the team.”