Saviour Tui has a permanent grin throughout our 15 minute chat at St Mary’s College this week.
Little changes when she is on the court.
"She’s quite innocent on court and does everything with a smile. There’s always a smile on her face, no matter how intense the game is, she just pulls out the smile," says Netball Central Performance Manager and Beko Head Coach Pelesa Semu.
At 1.89m and year 12 at St Mary’s College, Saviour joined the Central Beko team for the first time this season and has become a regular starter in the shooting circle. Playing goal attack for the Central side, Saviour has played all five of Central’s matches so far and is shooting at over 88 percent, which includes netting 30 from 31 against the Marvels in round four.
Semu says little fazes Saviour. “She just shows great confidence on court and that’s probably reflective of the way she’s shooting.”
“She’s doing everything a coach wants in a shooter, just quite confident, looking to the post, really accurate and her shooting volume is pretty consistent. She’s in-form and playing pretty well at the moment.’’
She is one of a group of promising school-aged players in the Central Beko and Pulse squads, including her schoolmates, defender Renee Savai’inaea and midcourt Ainsleyana Puleiata (currently injured), and Wellington East Girls’ College shooter Tiana Metuarau and Paris Lokotui (Queen Margaret College) – who she shares the same birthday with.
Behind Saviour’s friendly persona is a steely work ethic and a desire to succeed.
“We started training in the mornings from 6am-7am, so I get up at 4.55am and catch the bus in to town for that, she says. “You get used to it and I enjoy it. I was really happy making the Beko team, the strength and conditioning programme has helped me a lot,” she adds.
Saviour was brought up in and lives in Wainuiomata, and morning and afternoon trainings are at the ASB centre in Kilbirnie.
“Saviour is one of those young players you just love to coach because she’s committed to the programme, wants to do well, always learning, always asking and nothing gets too big for her. She just takes it on the chin and keeps going,” adds Semu.
Her parents are right behind her. It was Saviour’s mother that introduced her to netball. “I think I started playing when I was about eight,” she beams. “My mum got me into playing and she has continued supporting me through all my games."
This carried through to representative teams she started making at a young age, and most recently to the Wellington U17 team she was part of last year that won the national title.
“Being part of that Wellington U17 team last year was one of my favourite moments - not just winning but we had a strong bond and got on really well.”
The Wellington team successfully defended the Anna Rowberry Cup, beating Auckland 34-25 in the final. Saviour, Paris, Ana and Renee all made the U17 tournament team.
She points to her netball friends as helping her succeed as well. “I admire my teammates, my coaches and everyone who supports me in my netball as well.”
Saviour is the only one of her siblings playing competitive sport. “I have a younger sister at St Mary’s College who doesn’t play sport and my older brother at St Bernard’s College is smart and doesn’t really either.”
She has always been an attacker. “I enjoy goal shoot and goal attack equally, and play goal shoot for school and goal attack for Beko.”
This is her third year in the St Mary’s College team, who hope to qualify for the National Secondary School Championships again. St Mary’s finished sixth in 2016 in Lower Hutt and seventh last year in Rotorua. Saviour made the tournament team both years.
She is a current member of the NZSS wider squad, from which he final squad will be selected to play matches against the Australian U17s in Canberra in September.
St Mary’s College are currently national rugby and basketball champions. Saviour says that the success of all the sporting students helps motivate others to do better and reach for the top.
Beko Netball Round 6:
Central versus Waikato Bay of Plenty
TSB Arena, Wellingon
Sunday 17 June, 2.10pm.
Three Villa Maria College representative netballers are also going places fast off the court.
All three are key members of the school’s Senior A netball side and are in the Netball Mainland Baby Beko squad, while also each excelling in other sports.
Georgia Stroud is year 13 and plays in the midcourt and is a middle distance runner and national U19 surf life saving champion. Hannah Glen is year 13 and a goal shoot and goal attack and a recent Maadi Cup rowing medallist. Olivia Burnham is year 12 and a defender and a track runner and Pathway to Podium athlete.
Georgia says that school netball has been underway since the start of this term. “We have been playing since the start of the term and this Saturday we have a promotion-relegation match to move up to the Premier 2 grade, which would be good as it’s really competitive this year.”
The Premier 2 club netball grade in the Christchurch Netball Centre competitions is the grade that the top secondary school teams play in. The leading Canterbury schools also play in the secondary school SuperNet competition on Wednesdays, which runs until late August and features a first round-robin followed by a top four-bottom four series.
Last year Villa Maria finished fourth in the School Sport Canterbury SuperNet competition, losing to Ashburton College 42-30 in the third placed playoff.
Making the NZSS nationals this year is a definite goal for Villa Maria, who have got a strong record at the national tournament but not in recent years, having won in 2008 and finished in the top four on three occasions prior to that.
Last year, rivals Christchurch Girls’ High School and St Andrew’s College were the two Christchurch schools represented at nationals, and to qualify this year Villa Maria must finish in the top five at the SISS Championships in Winter Tournament Week.
Representative netball tournaments are also in July. “Hannah and I just got named in the Canterbury U19s and Olivia has been selected in the U17s,” says Georgia who will be pushing for selection in the final New Zealand secondary school team that plays matches against the Australian U17s in Canberra in September. Georgia was the only Canterbury player selected in this year’s 23-strong initial NZSS squad following the camp in Cambridge that all three players were invited to.
The Netball Mainland Baby Beko squad that all three are in is unique amongst the six franchises in that it is the highest elite franchise squad for Mainland secondary school netballers. Unlike the other five franchises, school players are not eligible for selection in the Beko of Tactix squads.
As well as netball, Georgia is busy with two other sports. “Over the summer I do athletics and surf-lifesaving,” she enthuses.
In February at the National Surf Life Saving Championships in Gisborne, she won gold in the U19km beach run and backed that up with silver in the open women’s 2km beach run.
On the track, she’s a middle distance runner, racing the 400m, 800m and 1500m distances.
Georgia won the Senior Girls 800m at the SISS Athletics championships in Timaru in March, in a time that would have seen her medal at the NZSS Championships in December.
Also at the SISS meet in March, Villa Maria’s 4 x 400m team of Georgia, Olivia, Julia Burnham (Olivia’s sister and year 10) and Kate Davies (year 11) not only won the SISS title but they also set a new SISS record time of 3.58.16.
The NZSS Senior Girls 4 x 400m record is 3.58.41, set by Howick College in 2009, so the Villa Maria team is looking forward to competing at this year’s national championships in Dunedin. Last year they won silver at nationals, after winning this same event in 2016.
Georgia gets her sporting talent from her family. Her mother Helen is a former Black Ferns rugby player and Canterbury netball representative and the Villa Maria’s Senior A netball coach, while her father Alan is a former All Whites goal-keeper.
As well as being in the Baby Beko netball squad, Olivia is in her second year in the Pathway to Podium programme for athletics.
A 400m runner and hurdler, Olivia says the March’s SISS 4 x 400m win and record was good personal reward following a difficult past few months.
“I spent the summer coming back from a netball injury I got at the U17 nationals last year. I went over on my ankle and I was out for about six weeks. That also put my training back and it was really hard for me.”
Olivia is focusing on netball, while also training for athletics over the winter.
“It is quite hard switching between athletics and netball, they are two completely different sports so that is a challenge,” explains Olivia.
“It is just a matter of being able to keep the consistency with my training and balancing out netball and athletics.”
Hannah is kept busy rowing in the summer and playing netball in the winter.
“I got bronze in the U18 quad at Maadi Cup. The other crew members were Kathryn Glen, Charlotte Freeman, Madeleine Davidson and our cox Emily Beattie.
“Kathryn is my cousin who got named in the NZ Junior rowing team rowing team and won bronze in the U18 single sculls.”
Previously, the crew had won the U18 quad at the SISS rowing championships. “This put us in a good position going forward to the Maadi Cup, we all knew we had a chance to do well. We qualified sixth for the final and pulled forward and finished third.”
This is only Hannah’s second year of rowing, after winning bronze in 2017 in the U17 double with Kathryn at her first Maadi Cup.
Like Olivia with her athletics, Hannah says that the adjustment from elite rowing and netball is a challenge. “The crossover from the two sports is quite difficult, getting the footwork back as opposed to sitting down on a boat, and also because the two seasons clash as one finishes and another starts.”
Khiarna Williams is a welcome addition to the Waikato Bay of Plenty Beko development league netball squad this season.
On Sunday, the year 11 Trident High School goalshoot played the second half of WBOP’s competition opening game over Netball South, shooting 16 from 23 in the 47-39 win.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Performance Manager Ruth Aitken says that Khiarna is making a positive contribution to the WBOP Beko squad and brings maturity to her game that is well beyond her years.
“Khiarna is a tall, strong shooter with courage to go the post when she receives the ball and is composed under pressure and seems to really love the competitiveness of elite netball,” says former Silver Ferns coach Aitken.
“The key to her readiness for netball at this level is her coachability and her determination to learn and improve She has a really supportive family support network and also Trident High School and Whakatane Netball Centre have been really supportive of this opportunity for Khiarna.”
We recently caught up with Khiarna. Some questions and answers are below.
How are you enjoying being in the Beko squad and do you feel you are improving your game?
Yes I’m really enjoying it all. I definitely think that I’m improving my game – the structures that we are learning in training are really helpful. The calibre of netball is a huge step up for me from school. Personally, I think I am improving, just because I’m always learning new things.
How have the older players taken you under their wing?
All the WBOP players are really helpful and nurturing – especially some of the more experienced players and they are really good communicators and give really good feedback. But they also ask me for feedback – which gives me the confidence to say things to them as well.
Tell us about the process of you being picked in this squad and your selection reactions?
We had two selections for the Beko WBOP squad. Last October was the trial to make the wider training squad and then in February was the final trial to name the squad to play in the Beko competition. Both my selections were a really big surprise. I didn’t think I would have made them as there were lots of really talented players. But the second trial that was what stunned me the most. I just didn’t think it would be for me this year, being so much younger. It was a big surprise.
You were also selected in the NZSS squad earlier this year?
In January this year we had the Netball NZ’s National Development Camp which was held in Cambridge, and the NZSS squad was named after that camp. It was a really cool experience getting to know lots of different girls from the big schools like MAGS and St Kent’s. I learned a lot from the coaches as well. The squad is all busy training and playing in their home regions and we keep connected with a team app where we have activities to complete. After the NNZ U17 and U19 national tournaments in July, the final team will be named to travel to Canberra to play the Aussies.
You live and go to school in Whakatane - so is there quite a bit of travelling for you?
I am really lucky as I live near the Beko Coach, MJ. So most Tuesdays and Thursdays she picks me up after school and we travel to Cambridge for training. MJ drives and I just sleep!
You are a shooter - have you always been a shooter or have you played other positions?
I first started playing netball when I was five – and I played centre till I was about eight. Then I was moved to defence because of my height and I stayed in defence during the rest of primary school. In year 8 my rep coach (who was also my nan!) put me to shooter. It was a big surprise but it seemed to be quite natural for me and she taught me the basics of shooting. When I went to back to school I started playing both ends – defence or shooter, whatever the team needed. Then at Trident High School, my coach Te Ahuru Waititi kept me at shooter and that was when I really started to get confident. She has had a huge impact in developing my game.
Do you have a favourite netball memory thus far?
My favourite memory would have to be last year our Eastern BoP U15 team won B Grade at the North Island tournament. The year before we had an injury to our main GA and that brought down our confidence. We lost our semi and didn’t make the finals. But the next year, we all stepped up and we did the job, which felt great.
Apart being with the WBOP Beko squad, what other netball are you playing this season?
My school team plays on a Saturday in Whakatane and on Friday night at Harbourside. I am also in the Eastern BOP U17 rep team who will compete in Palmerston North in the July holidays. However currently the WBOP Beko programme is my first priority and when possible I am able to play for my other teams. The main tournament for school netball is the Upper North Islands (UNISS), after the Beko competition is finished.
Tell us about other sports you play and what successes have you had?
Yes I also play volleyball. Trident High School is very strong at both volleyball and netball. Last year when I was in Year 10 we won Junior North Islands and also the Senior Nationals. This year Trident also qualified for volleyball nationals again. These were held in March, so I was given leave from the Beko programme to play. Now the volleyball season is over and I am concentrating on netball, but I am looking forward to playing volleyball again in the summer.
Downtime is a precious commodity for Columba College’s Meg Sycamore who is currently juggling her two sports Touch and netball to a high level - and there’s a lot to look forward to with both over the next few months.
The year 12 student is fully committed to putting her best foot forward in both, being in the New Zealand U18 Touch squad preparing for the Youth World Cup in Malaysia in early August and being the youngest squad member of the Netball South Beko netball team that starts their national development competition campaign this coming weekend.
Selection came recently for both the Netball South Beko squad and the New Zealand U18 Touch teams.
In February, Meg was a key member of the Otago U18 team that won the national junior touch championships in Auckland. This was Otago’s maiden junior national touch title of any sort since the competition started in 2011. They won in a splash – their final against Waikato unable to be played because of heavy rain meaning they were awarded the title after beating them 7-4 in round-robin play.
Following that, Touch New Zealand selected 60 girls and 60 boys to attend a camp in the recent school holidays and former New Zealand U16 girls and U15 mixed player Meg made the team. Columba College teammate and fellow co-captain McKayler Moore will also be on the plane to Malaysia with Meg.
Columba College coach Dayna Turnbull is also the New Zealand Senior Women’s Touch captain so she will be keeping the pair and other Dunedin players busy with regular skills sessions over the winter.
The Netball South Beko squad selection came more of a surprise for Meg who plays either centre of wing attack.
“At the end of last year they named a Beko training squad, but I wasn’t part of this at all. Then I was picked to go the national schools development camp in Cambridge at the end of January and then I returned and was invited to trial for Netball South and was picked from there.”
She says her netball game has already come on in leaps and bounds just being part of the squad.
“I am shorter than everyone else so I have to work hard, but I feel I am getting so much better and that I have already learnt so much training with this squad because it’s so different to school netball, with the extra physicality and the skill level.”
Meg is one of three schoolgirls in Netball South’s Beko squad, along with Tanisha Fifita (Waitaki Girls’ High School) and Tyra Dunn (Verdon College).
This coming weekend Netball South plays its opening Beko match in Te Aroha against Waikato Bay of Plenty and then meets the Northern Marvels in Auckland in round two. Meg says she is not part of the opening match, but says she is sure to have a big crowd of friends and family supporting her when she plays at home or in Invercargill for the first time.
Meg says there are many similarities between training for netball and Touch at the same time. “The netball and Touch fitness components complement each other, so I’m not having to do too much extra fitness. But skill-wise it’s really different with the different balls so I like to keep my Touch skills up when not training for netball.”
In school competitions, Meg says Columba College’s Senior A netball team exceeded expectations last year, but they weren’t entirely satisfied with their finish at the NZSS Touch nationals in December.
“Last year we finished fifth at the school nationals and were a bit disappointed after coming second the year before [to Hamilton Girls’ High School]. This year we are hoping to do much better!
“We qualified fourth from the South Island [five spots available] for the NZSS netball nationals in December but we weren’t expecting this.”
In fact Columba College had to relinquish their spot at the NZSS netball tournament and sixth placed Ashburton College took their place.
One of the coaches had already booked a holiday at the same time, while Meg and three other players were already booked to travel with the school’s Touch team to a big tournament in Australia immediately prior to nationals.
Columba were subsequently knocked out of that All-Queensland Touch tournament by North Island rivals Hamilton Girls’ High School.
Meg says that Dunedin’s St Hilda’s Collegiate are big rivals on the Touch field and netball court. “Last year St Hilda’s were very strong in netball.” Both teams play Dunedin club netball on Saturdays and last year St Hilda’s played in a higher grade and convincingly won all their matches when they did meet on their way to winning the South Island title for the second consecutive year. In Touch, Columba was South Island champions in March, beating St Hilda’s 7-1 in the final.
Like last year several Columba players play in both teams, these being: Meg Sycamore, McKayler Moore, Maia Joseph, Abbey Anderson, Kate Turnbull, Madi Williams and Jess Cowie.
Last year was Meg’s first year in the Senior A netball team, while she has been in the touch side since year nine.
Meg says the support of her coaches has been immense in getting her to this level and hopefully higher in the future, not least Touch coach Dayna Turnbull who is also the head of sport at Columba College.
“Dayna has put so much time and effort into me as a person and a player and all the other girls that play Touch. She is such a good role model. She trains and works so hard and is always offering to help us.”
That’s not all Meg plays. She plays sevens rugby and basketball for her school when time allows and has a background in gymnastics, cross country running and swimming, where she won plenty of Otago regional age group medals and also collected an age group bronze at a national level in the 200m IM.
Netball New Zealand has selected a 23-strong squad for 2018, following the National Development Camp in Cambridge last week.
The squad, which includes two ANZ Premiership players is:
Player name- 2017 School - 2017 Zone
*Armani Lam – Mt Albert Grammar School – Northern Zone
Bianca Nagaiya – Epsom Girls Grammar School – Northern Zone
Bridie Burns – Sacred Heart College – Central Zone
Brooke Neilson – New Plymouth Girls High School – Central Zone
Ella Williams – St Cuthbert’s College - Northern Zone
*Georgia Stroud – Villa Maria College – Mainland Zone
Georgie Edgecombe – St Peter’s School – Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone
Greer Sinclair – Epsom Girls Grammar School- Northern Zone
Jess Gemmell – St Cuthbert’s College – Northern Zone
Khiarna Williams – Trident High School – Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone
Killarney Morey – Epsom Girls Grammar School – Northern Zone
*Leehava Saverio – Howick College – Northern Zone
*Nanise Waqairo – Howick College – Northern Zone
Paris Lokotui – Queen Margaret College – Central Zone
*Ruby Young – Mt Albert Grammar School – Northern Zone
Saviour Tui – St Mary’s College - Central Zone
*Taneisha Fafita – Waitaki Girls High School – South Zone
Tayla Earle – St Kentigern College – Northern Zone
*Teuila Sotutu – Howick College – Northern Zone
Tiuana-Marie Aiono - Queen Margaret College – Central Zone
Vika Koloto – Baradene College – Northern Zone
Franchise Players Eligible
Tiana Metuarau – Wellington East Girls High Schools- Central Zone
Renee Savai’inaea- St Mary’s College- Central Zone
NZU21 World Champion Tiana Metuarau and defender Renee Savai’inaea, who will make her ANZ Premiership debut this season, are still eligible for the squad and have been named in the group.
NZSS coach Mary-Jane Araroa said a final team would be named after the NZ Age Group Championships in July in the build-up to matches against the Australian Under-17 squad in Canberra in September.
“We are excited with what we have seen at the National Development Camp and opted to name a squad at this time to enable us to monitor and track these athletes over the next six months” she said.
Araroa said the National Camp provided the panel the opportunity to assess athletes from all over the country.
“Players were selected from all the national age group competitions, regional Secondary School tournaments and last year’s NZ Secondary Schools tournament which gave us the chance to observe a large number of athletes in one place.”
Not all players were able to attend the camp so the selectors reserve the right to consider athletes from outside this squad in the final selection process.
New Zealand won the Netball World Youth Cup in Botswana, the Southern Steel beat the Pulse in the ANZ Championship final and Howick College won the NZSS title on their first attempt. There's plenty of talent in our third annual Champion of Champions netball group.
Vote for your favaourite player in the poll below.
Aliyah Dunn (Verdon College)
Flying the flag for the southerners in this group, Aliyah Dunn will soon be finishing school and moving from Invercargill to Wellington to join the Central Pulse squad. Dunn, who stands just under 1.9m, can play both goal attack and goal shoot, giving the Pulse plenty of variety on attack. She was a member of the Netball South Beko Netball League team this year - along with Georgia and Kate Heffernan (both St Hilda’s Collegiate) and Taneisha Fifita (Waitaki GHS) - and made her debut for champions the Southern Steel. She will reunite with fellow NZ under-21 players Tiana Metuarau (Wellington East Girls’ College) and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, the trio having won the Netball World Youth Cup in Botswana in July. Made the NZ U23 Basketball Nationals Tournament Team in August.
Tori Kolose (Saint Kentigern College)
Mid-courter of the tournament at the NZSS Nationals in Rotorua in October. Tori Kolose helped lead the defending champions Saint Kentigern College to the final where they were pipped by Howick College. A big year saw her playing in the Beko League for the Northern Comets and winning their Player of the Year award, playing alongside school teammate Ashleigh Garner, win the Auckland and UNISS titles with St Kent’s and make the New Zealand Secondary Schools squad. There’s no slowing down in 2018 for Kolose, having signed as a training partner for the Mystics. Kolose has also played Touch to a high level and was the 2015 NZSS Touch Championships tournament girls MVP.
Tiana Metuarau (Wellington East Girls’ College)
Returning to school at Wellington East, Tiana Metuarau, started this year off in the Silver Ferns development squad and as a Central Pulse squad member, having spent the past two years in the NZSS squad Shooter Metuarau made her Pulse debut at the start of the season and impressed with a number of eye-catching performances - playing 17 matches and getting 857 minutes of court-time. In the grand final at the end of June, the 16-year-old shot 27/30 as the Pulse went down 53-69 to the Southern Steel. In July, she helped the New Zealand U21 side win the Netball World Youth Cup in Botswana, playing the first half in the 60-57 win in the final over Australia. Returning for her second season at the Pulse in 2018.
Ainsleyana Puleiata (St Mary’s College)
Multitalented St Mary’s College centre Ainsleyana Puleiata was named the national secondary schools player of the year at the conclusion of the NZSS championships in Rotorua in October. At the tournament, St Mary’s finished seventh but the previous week she was captain of the NZSS team that played a series of matches in Australia against local representative sides. This was her second year in the team and she returns to school in 2018. National secondary schools coach Mary-Jane Araroa said Puleiata’s natural leadership skills and flair through the mid-court had impressed this year. “She has a real speed and agility on court and reads the game so well,” she said. “I think her best attribute has been her vision and her ability to lead.” Ana – along with St Mary’s teammate and next year’s Pulse player Renee Savai'inaea – is also a gun rugby player for the champion St Mary’s team.
Nanise Waqaira (Howick College)
The Defender of the Tournament and a key player in Howick College’s fairy-tale maiden NZSS tournament win in October. Previously in July, the year 11 helped Howick Pakuranga finish third at the U17 Nationals and made the NZ U17 Tournament Team. In 2014 Howick College were 13th in B grade at the UNISS tournament and three years later national champions with three players in the tournament team – shooter Leehava Saverio, wing defence Iva Livani and goal keep Nanise Waqaira. Howick College beat defending champions Saint Kentigern College 33-25 in the final of the NZSS tournament, after earlier beating them in pool play of both the NZSS and UNISS tournaments.
The Champion of Champion series is not intended to be a definitive list of the ‘best’ athletes in each code, rather it celebrates many of the leading athletes and teams in each that College Sport Media has followed this year. Preference has gone to those individuals/teams that CSM has interviewed and profiled in 2017. Got a story? Email email@example.com
Renee Savai'inaea is a National secondary schools rugby and basketball champion and was recently selected in the New Zealand Secondary Schools netball team earning a place in the Pulse squad for next year. So what’s her preference?
“Netball,” the softly spoken Savai'inaea replies.
Savai'inaea intends to abandon basketball in 2018 which is remarkable given she was a member of the St Mary’s team that won the National AA title three weeks ago in Palmerston North.
Savai'inaea was named in the tournament team after top scoring for her school with 18 points in the final as St Mary’s denied St Peter’s Cambridge a three-peat success.
In a remarkable match St Peter’s captain Charlisse Leger-Walker scored an incredible 48 points as she almost single-handedly won the game by herself.
“I wished she would stop,” Savai'inaea laughs.
“We put one on her at the start and then it became two and three. Charlisse is amazing. It was a hard game.” Savai'inaea continues.
With 3.13 left, St Mary’s desperately snaffled three offensive rebounds and Savai’inaea hit a three-pointer to extend their lead to 64-55, the largest of the match. Leger-Walker scored seven points in a row to close the margin to 64-62, but Savai’inaea hit three free throws to guide St Mary’s home.
St Mary’s also defended their Wellington title and beat the same opponent Hutt Valley High School in the Zone 3 decider. Savai'inaea attributes St Mary’s win to teamwork.
“Nixon Penese is an awesone coach. He is relaxed, but direct at the same time. We had a real good culture where every girl had a role to play.”
Then there’s her rugby career, part of a world champion St Mary’s sevens team and now national champion 15s side.
“We beat Hamilton Girls in a tough semi-final, and were too complacent heading into the final. We thought we had beaten the best team.” Savai'inaea concedes when reflecting on the 2016 National top four rugby final between Southland Girls’ High School and St Mary’s.
St Mary’s was soundly beaten 46-29, but the First XV have bounced back hard in 2017 winning the National top four title and the Condor and Sanix World youth invitation sevens crowns.
Savai'inaea typically plays lock or on the side of the scrum and appears alongside several of her basketball teammates, including Te Araroa Sopoaga, the sister of All Black Lima Sopoaga.
“I really like rugby. I enjoy the physical challenge. My dad played in Wellington rep sides. We have a great culture where we are allowed to express ourselves,” Savai'inaea enthuses.
New Zealand Secondary Schools player of the year Ainsleyana Puleiata pointed to her “support crew” when she ponders her successful season.
The St Mary’s College of Wellington mid-courter was named the national secondary schools player of the year at New Zealand Secondary Schools Champs in Rotorua this week.
Puleiata, who also excels at rugby, said she was “surprised and stoked” to pick up the award having been involved with an “incredibly talented bunch of girls” with the New Zealand Secondary Schools team which she captained this year.
But she was quick to thank those around her for helping her succeed on court.
“I’ve had so much support through this year,” she said. “People help me with my nutrition, my strength and conditioning, my physio – which has been really good for me because it means I was able to keep my performance consistent.”
“There have been opportunities after opportunities this year and I’m really grateful for them,” she said at the conclusion of the national tournament this week. “It’s improved my netball skills and I feel blessed.”
National secondary schools coach Mary-Jane Araroa said Puleiata’s natural leadership skills and flair through the mid-court had impressed this year.
“She has a real speed and agility on court and reads the game so well,” she said. “I think her best attribute has been her vision and her ability to lead.”
Araroa said Puleiata was a very “coachable” player and showed plenty of respect not only to her fellow team-mates but also to management.
It was her second season with the New Zealand Secondary Schools team and she was still eligible for another year.
“We picked her up as a youngster and she’s just grown and grown in the team,” Araroa said. “We’ve been impressed with her skill and natural flair in her game.”
Puleiata said her goals now were to push for next year’s Central Beko Netball League team with an eye of playing for the Central Pulse in the future.
Howick College 33 (Leehava Saverio 20/24, Lasalle Lefale 13/13) beat Saint Kentigern College 25 (Hannah Ward 7/9, Ashleigh Garner 18/24). Quarter scores: 6-8, 15-16, 23-21, 33-25.
Howick College have completed an outstanding NZSS Netball Tournament by claiming their maiden title, beating defending champions and Auckland rivals Saint Kentigern College in the final at Rotorua this afternoon.
After beating St Kent’s by three goals in their first match of the tournament on Tuesday, Howick came from behind in the grand final with Saint Kentigern gaining the early break.
Goal attack Ashleigh Garner led from the front for Saint Kentigern – sinking eight from eight in the opening spell – as her side held an 8-6 advantage at the first break. But momentum swung after the whistles for the second quarter with Howick netting five unanswered goals, their resurgence spurred on by goal keeper Nanise Waqaira who snaffled two intercepts in the spell.
Shooter Leehava Saverio also came into the game netting eight from nine in the quarter as Howick closed the gap to one goal by half-time.
The arm-wrestle continued into the third quarter with Saint Kentigern netting two quick goals before Howick started to assert their dominance and it was the latter which went into the fourth spell with a two-goal advantage.
Saint Kentigern coach Nicola Lewis made a change in the shooting circle for the fourth quarter with Garner swapping bibs with goal shooter Hannah Ward.
The switch made little difference as it was Howick which started the deciding spell the strongest with three straight goals giving it a sniff of victory.
The back three of Waqaira, goal defence Shalom Setu-Veve and wing Iva Livani combined well with the trio picking up five intercepts and nine deflections between them as they stifled Saint Kentigern’s flow up front.
Howick’s ability to share the shooting load again proved a strength to their game as they won the last quarter 10-4 to snare the spoils.
Manawatu school Manukura ensured it wasn’t to be an Auckland one-two-three finish by beating Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 37-30 in the playoff for third and fourth. Manukura won the game with a strong second quarter, winning that 15-6 and leading 23-15 at halftime.
Centre Braxton Te Rini was a stand-out in the middle for Manukura picking up five intercepts and feeding her shooters well. Manukura were also bookended by strong showings from goal keeper Antonia Heihei who snaffled five intercepts and six deflections while shooter Rochelle Fourie netted 30 goals for her side and picked up five valuable rebounds.
Howick won the NZSS Nationals this year after qualifying fifth out of six teams in the recent UNISS tournament. Of note, they beat St Kent's 29-28 there too, so have won three on the trot against them.
Finals Day results:
Final: Howick College 33 – Saint Kentigern College 25
3rd v 4th: Manukura 37 – Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 30
5th v 6th: Waikato Diocesan School for Girls 31 – Mount Albert Grammar School 27
7th v 8th: St Mary’s College 29 – St Hilda’s Collegiate.
9th v 10th: St Paul’s Collegiate 32 – Sacred Heart College 22
11th v 12th: St Margaret’s 42 – Ashburton College 17
13th v 14th: Palmerston North Girls' High School 37 – Queen Margaret College 27
15th v 16th: St Andrew's College 33 – Christchirch Girls’ High School 30
Howick College road to the title
Beat Saint Kentigern College 30-27
Beat Palmerston North Girls' High School 35-20
Beat Christchurch Girls' High School 43-17
Beat Waikato Diocesan School for Girls 30-26
Beat St Hilda’s Collegiate 40-21
Beat Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 33-29
Beat Saint Kentigern College 33-25
Howick College squad list
Dajian Brown Myia Hetaraka Susana Jones Lasalle Lefale Iva Livani Sal Pamatatau Tori Parker Leehava Saverio Shalom Setu-Veve Teuila Sotutu Su-Elyse Ulugia Nanise Waqaira Captains: Lasalle Lefale & Iva Livani Coach: Adelita Sotutu Assistant Coach: Jasmyn Pamatatau Manager: Chris Dyke Primary Care: Leah Belle Statistician: Jen-Rose Reu
NZSS Netball last 10 winners
2017: Howick College
2016: Saint Kentigern College
2015 Mt Albert Grammar School
2014 Mt Albert Grammar School
2013 Mt Albert Grammar School
2012 Mt Albert Grammar School
2011 Tu Toa
2010 Mt Albert Grammar School
2009 Tu Toa
2008 Villa Maria College
5: Mount Albert Grammar School
4: Auckland Girls’ Grammar School
2: Bay of Islands College, Avondale College, Verdon College, Massey High School, Tu Toa,
1. Waikato Diocesan School for Girls, Wellington Girls’ College, Hillcrest High School, Villa Maria College, Howick College
Last year’s runners-up Mount Albert Grammar School and first time participant Howick College are the two unbeaten sides after two days of four of the NZSS Netball Nationals being played at the National Events Centre in Rotorua.
MAGS and Howick each topped their pools and also won their first top eight section matches on Wednesday evening.
Howick College set the tournament alight on day one by upsetting defending champions Saint Kentigern College 30-27 in their opening encounter. Howick College, making their first appearance at the NZSS nationals then went on to defeat Palmerston North Girls’ High School and Christchurch Girls’ High School in pool play before toppling Waikato Diocesan 30-26 in tonight’s first crossover game.
Howick’s win over St Kent’s also set up a tough Wednesday evening crossover fixture between St Kent’s (second behind Howick in Pool A) and Manawatu champions Manukura (Pool B winners). St Kent’s won that match 35-34.
Meanwhile, MAGS won all their Pool C matches comfortably, before defeating Wellington’s St Mary’s College 35-27 in their opening top 8 fixture this evening.
In tonight’s other top 8 crossover Section E and F match, Pool D winner Epsom Girls’ Grammar School (two wins from three in their pool games) lowered South Island champions St Hilda’s Collegiate 52-26.
Draws and Results
For full draws and results and to follow the tournament visit: http://www.netballnz.co.nz/competitions/competition-detail/nz-secondary-schools-netball-champs
Pool play results – days one and two
Howick College 30 – Saint Kentigern College 27
Christchurch Girls’ High School 36 – Palmerston North Girls’ High School 30
Saint Kentigern College 50 - Christchurch Girls’ High School 20
Howick College 35 - Palmerston North Girls’ High School 20
Saint Kentigern College 46 - Palmerston North Girls’ High School 20
Howick College 43 - Christchurch Girls’ High School 17
Pool winner: Howick College
Manukura 30 - Waikato Diocesan School for Girls 26
Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt 38 – St Margaret’s College 27
Manukura 38 – St Margaret’s College 22
Waikato Diocesan School for Girls 32 - Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt 28
Manukura 44 - Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt 18
Waikato Diocesan School for Girls 40 - St Margaret’s College 37
Pool winner: Winner: Manukura
St Hilda's Collegiate School 39 – Queen Margaret College 27
Mount Albert Grammar School 51 – Ashburton College 25
Mount Albert Grammar School 41 – St Hilda’s Collegiate 21
Ashburton College 35 – Queen Margaret College 34
St Hilda's Collegiate School 44 – Ashburton College 27
Mount Albert Grammar School 56 v Queen Margaret College 25
Pool winner: Mount Albert Grammar School
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 31 – St Mary’s College 30
St Paul's Collegiate School 46 – St Andrew’s College 27
St Mary’s College 45 – St Andrew’s College 20
St Paul's Collegiate School 28 – Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 27
Epsom Girls’ Grammar School 53 – St Andrew’s College 29
St Mary’s College 32 - St Paul’s Collegiate School 28
Pool winner: Epsom Girls’ Grammar School
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