Tiana Metuarau is used to being the youngest member of the team.
Tiana has already spent two years in the New Zealand Secondary Schools netball team. She recent made her debut for the Central Beko League team and has played several matches in the new Netball New Zealand development competition that is being played in parallel with the ANZ Championship.
In 2014 she was named in the tournament team at the NZSS Nationals as a Year 9 player.
In fact, the 15-year-old and now Year 11 Wellington East Girls’ College shooter and goal attack has been around netball her entire life.
“I started playing netball when I was six,” she explained. “My auntie had a team that was playing in a tournament and they needed a spare player so mum drove me out to the Hutt. That was my first game but I was really bad - I was really uncoordinated and didn’t know what to do, I just ran around in circles with the ball!”
Mum is former Silver Ferns player and coach Wai Taumanu. “It was always natural that I started playing,” Tiana continued, “because I have always been around the netball scene and when I really young she used to carry me around the court.”
Incidentally, Wai was a defender and Tiana plays at the attacking end of the court. “I played a bit at defence in primary school, but I’ve always been a shooter.”
She’s come a long way since she started playing the game.
At the start of May she helped her NZSS teammates to victory in the International School Girls Netball Challenge at the Trusts Arena in Auckland. New Zealand edged Australia in the final.
Tiana was named the Shooter of the Tournament.
She said being in the team for the second year in a row gave her more confidence to play well.
“I was still nervous coming into the trials because there is always that chance that you are not going to make it. But I definitely had more confidence than last year. I was just a lot calmer this year.
“Last year I think I only knew three people, and this year having Sydney Fraser [St Kentigern College] and Courtney Elliott [Te Wananga Ki Ruakura] also coming back and having some friends go with me I felt more comfortable in that environment.”
This year she’s already played a bunch of games for Central in the Beko League, making her competition debut in the team’s first match against Northern in April and playing in the starting seven in several matches. Many of Tiana’s opponents have been several years older than her and some are ANZ Championship players.
School-wise, it’s a re-building year for the Wellington East Girls’ College Senior A team.
“There are only two players returning to our team from last year, myself and Sharnay Leef.”
Last year Wellington East finished third at the NZSS Netball Championships played in Ashburton, beating Wellington rivals St Mary’s College 33-20 in the playoff for third and fourth.
This year the NZSS tournament is in nearby Lower Hutt, so qualifying again and playing there is a goal for Wellington East. “We’ve got a smaller team than last year, so for us it’s about building our own style to suit and qualifying for Nationals at the Lower North Island Tournament that is coming up.”
Across town, St Mary’s have retained many of their senior players from last year, including NZSS representatives Ainsleyana Puleiata and Renee Savai'inaea.
Naturally, netball is taking up much of her Tiana’s time at the moment. She’s playing or training for netball pretty much every day of the week, sometimes up to three times a day.
“Outside of netball I also play basketball, which I really enjoy playing, and it also takes my mind off netball.”
As well as her mother Wai Taumanu, Tiana has a sporting family. Her father George Metuarau is a well-known rugby coach and coach of the Cook Islands international team. Her brother Tuakana plays for the Oriental-Rongotai [Ories] Premier team in Wellington club rugby as a loose forward.
She has no plans to play rugby as well. “When I was young I played Rippa Rugby for Ories, but not since then - I’ll just concentrate on netball as my main sport!”
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