By Duncan Mackay

Brendan JoyceMay 16 - Australia has appointed Brendan Joyce as the new coach of its women's team to guide them to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the first time the job has been a full-time appointment for more than a decade. 

As part of the new role, Joyce (pictured) will also become head of the women's programme at the Basketball Australia National Centre of Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

Joyce had previously been assistant coach of the men's team at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympics and 2006 FIBA World Championships and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

He will take over an Australian Opals side who won their fifth consecutive Olympic medal at London 2012 under head coach Carrie Graf, a bronze for the second Games in a row to add to the other bronze they won at Atlanta 1996 and the silvers they claimed at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. 

"I'm proud and honoured to be appointed head coach of the Opals programme," Joyce said.

"Many of our Opals are among the best athletes in the world, and the success achieved by Opals' coaches and players past and present has put them firmly on the international stage.

"The Opals have medalled at the last five Olympic Games - making them one of Australia's most consistent women's national teams - and that's an achievement not to be underestimated.

"We've talked a big game about success at the Olympics, and now it's time to back that up. In my opinion, it's not about what we say; it's about what we do.

"My vision for the Opals is to be a united team with a strong and positive culture, to be disciplined.

"Our preparation has to be near perfect – we have to be the fittest and best conditioned team in the world - and we have to play with intelligence.

"Every championship-winning team boasts those traits, and if we put them in place with the Opals, I know we can aim high in Rio."

Australian Opals London 2012Australia's women won a fifth consecutive Olympic basketball medal at London 2012 - but the gold medal continues to elude them

Joyce brings high-level domestic experience to the Opals programme as a two-time National Basketball League (NBL) Coach of the Year, having driven the Wollongong Hawks to their first and only NBL Championship and amassing more than 400 games as an NBL coach.

He also played 289 matches in the NBL for Nunawading Spectre, Westside Melbourne Saints and Brisbane Bullets.

"Brendan has an inherent passion to teach and lead athletes on a pathway that instils accountability to elite preparation in every aspect," said Jan Stirling, who coached the Opals to the World Championship title in 2006 and was a member of the selection panel that chose Joyce. 

"Not only will he challenge the players to strive for optimum performance, he will command a sense of urgency and diligence to remain relentless in the pursuit of winning a gold medal.

"Brendan's point of difference as a coach is his ability to critique the skill and abilities of players, enhance their capacity to understand what's required to win games in high pressure environments, and at the same time elevate their individual and team confidence.

"With Brendan leading both the Opals and the national women's programme at the Centre of Excellence in a full-time capacity, it is an exciting time for Australian women's basketball."

Basketball Australia chief executive Kristina Keneally claimed Joyce was the right coach to lead the Opals on the road to the 2014 FIBA World Championships and the Rio Olympics.

"Brendan has been coaching at the national and international level for the best part of 20 years; going forward, that depth of experience will be crucial to what is already one of the strongest programs in Australian sport," she said.

"We look forward to Brendan continuing to build on the foundations set by Tom Maher, Jan Stirling and Carrie Graf in establishing the Opals as Australia's premier women's sporting team."

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