There will be an Australian flavor to the England Super League Grand Final in London this weekend with Dan Ryan leading Manchester Thunder into the season decider against Surrey Storm where he aims to create history.
Ryan, pictured, is in his first season as Thunder Head Coach having spent the past four years as an assistant/specialist coach with the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the ANZ Championship.
Should the Thunder triumph over the defending champions Storm at London’s Copper Box Arena, Ryan will become the first male to coach a team to the Super League title and also the youngest in the competition’s 10-year history at 31 years old.
Thunder defeated Team Bath 53-46 in one semi-final last weekend while Storm toppled Mavericks 53-51 in the other decider after trailing at one stage by seven goals.
Thunder is chasing their third title in five seasons while Storm is looking to go back-to-back and be the first team to achieve that since Team Bath back in 2010.
It’s been a dream season for Ryan and his team. They finished minor premiers losing just once in the regular season – against Storm, before reversing that result with an eight goal win a fortnight ago.
“To be honest, it’s been one the most enjoyable experiences of my life,” Ryan declared.
“The club, the players and the Thunder fans have all embraced me in every way possible and made me feel right at home since day one. It’s turned out to be the best thing for my coaching career.
“I really wanted to come here to show what I could do as a head coach, make a positive impact and take the team and the athletes to the next level. From the outset, I was really clear on my expectations and the quality and intensity that I needed from them for us to be successful.
“The players have been brilliant and they’ve been right on board with me from the very start. It’s nice to know that six months on from our first encounter, we’re just days away from reaching our goal of winning the title.”
Ryan was an assistant at the Thunderbirds when they claimed the 2013 ANZ Championship title.
“It would be a dream ending to my debut season and something I would remember forever (if we win this weekend),” Ryan said.
“But I’d really like to win this for the players. They sacrifice a lot to get to this point with most of them working or studying full-time on top of all their netball commitments.
“So it’s a tough balance but they somehow manage it without complaint. We really just want to win this for each other and the club.”
The Grand Final will be played at 2am (AEST) Sunday morning. Click here to follow the results.