Up to this year, Epsom Girls’ Grammar School has never had a New Zealand Secondary Schools netball representative.
Last month that all changed when not one but three of their players were named in the 12-strong NZSS team to travel to Australia in September to attend the Netball Australia 17-and-under training camp and play in a round-robin tournament with three other teams.
Greer Sinclair, Bianca Nagaiya and Tamara Leoni are all in the NZSS squad for the trip to Canberra.
Greer is Year 12 and in her second year as captain of EGGS and said that hard work and a healthy team culture has paid off for the trio’s selection. “Bianca [also Year 12] and I got a trial last year but neither made it, but we worked hard throughout the year and all three of us were selected which rewards our extra effort.”
Year 13 Tamara was also a member of the Aotearoa Maori Netball International Secondary School (AMNISS) team that won the International U19 Schools Challenge tournament in Fiji in May – beating the Australians twice (30-26 and 40-28).
“We also have two girls in our school team that were in the Cook Islands U21 team that competed in the junior world championships in Botswana recently [won by New Zealand], said Greer.”
The Cook Islands U21 representatives were Nina Tai Roberts and Celeste Patutama. Amie Hucker was a recent NZ U15 Indoor representative that competed at the Junior Worlds in South Africa last month.
Last year EGGS were winners of the Carole Craighead Trophy for best overall school results in the Auckland Netball Secondary Schools competition, reflecting the development of their netball programme.
Greer, Bianca and Tamara have all been part of Auckland representative teams in recent seasons, with the U17 side finishing runners-up to Wellington two years running, this year losing 25-34 to them in the Anna Rowberry Cup final. Greer and Bianca made the U17 tournament team.
The last round of the Auckland Secondary Schools Premier competition was played earlier this evening, with EGGS beating Westlake Girls’ High School 39-31 to finish third. St Kent's and Mount Albert Grammar School met in the grand final that followed.
The win for EGGS over Westlake this evening reversed their 35-40 defeat to them earlier in the round-robin, after early beating them comfortably in a pre-season tournament.
It’s the first of three major competitions that EGGS hope to compete in in 2017, for the third consecutive year, with the Upper North Island Secondary Schools (UNISS) Tournament and the New Zealand Secondary Schools tournament to come.
“Our goal is to try and beat our record from last year when we finished fourth, fourth and fourth.” Greer explained before this evening's match. “We want to try and work on getting a top three placing this year.”
First goal achieved.
The top six teams from the UNISS tournament qualify for the 16-team nationals, being played in Rotorua in early October.
Last year, EGGS were beaten by Palmerston North’s Manukura in the playoff for third and fourth. Greer and Bianca both made the tournament team.
Greer said that MAGS and St Kent’s are again amongst the teams to beat at UNISS and nationals.
“MAGS are really close rivals, but we have had some close games against them this year and they have lost some games such as their one-point loss to One Tree Hill College who we beat by 14 the next week.”
“It’s really close competition, and when we are playing MAGS and St Kent’s we just need to get right the mental side of it.”
Greer has been in the EGGS Premier team since Year 9. She was vice-captain in Year 10 and captain for the first time last season. There’s currently a good balance of young and senior players in the squad. “Our team ranges from Year 10 to 13 and we have one Year 9 development player, so we have a good mix.”
Greer is a specialist defender, with goal defence her preference, Bianca is a specialist attacker with goal shoot her most common position and Tamara plays both goal shoot and goal keep.
Greer and Bianca have been playing netball all their lives. Bianca is Auckland born and bred, while Greer is from Waiuku who started at EGGS as a boarder but now lives in Auckland.
As well as netball, Bianca plays tennis. “Last year I was in the top tennis team at school, but nowadays I just play tennis with my dad and more for fun.”
The signing of St Mary’s College defender Renee Savai’inaea highlights a strong youthful presence in the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse ranks for next year’s ANZ Premiership netball competition.
The addition of the multi-talented sportswoman completes the 10-strong Pulse roster for 2018 which features four teenagers.
Savai’inaea, 17, (Ngāti Porou and Magiagi/Vailele in Samoa), who is equally adept at both goal and wing defence, will join recent World Youth Cup winning teenaged talent Tiana Metuarau, Aliyah Dunn, 17, and Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, 19, in the Pulse line-up.
A New Zealand under-21 squad member and New Zealand Secondary School rep, Savai’inaea has a strong netball pedigree but is also a key member of the St Mary’s College rugby team, playing lock in 15s and also part of their Condor and World Secondary School Sevens. She is also a Wellington basketball representative.
A member of this year’s successful Central Beko Netball League team, which went through the season unbeaten, Savai’inaea is still coming to grips with her promotion but is confident she can juggle the demands of school work with elite level netball.
``I certainly wasn’t expecting this and I’m just really excited,’’ she said. ``Now I just want to grow as a player, ask lots of questions and learn off experienced players like Katrina (Grant) and try and gain as much knowledge as possible.’’
With the Pulse and Beko teams training and playing together throughout the season, as well as being part of the Pulse team during the Super Club tournament, Savai’inaea has gained a good grounding of what to expect in the step up.
``Everything that happened this season has definitely helped me prepare and will mean it won’t seem all new when I go in next year,’’ she said.
For Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie, the selection of Savai’inaea ensured the correct court balance was achieved. That includes players being able to play at least two positions while being given opportunities to grow and develop in other areas.
Above average height, Savai’inaea is a strong and powerful athlete, the teenager ticking three important boxes for the coach.
``Firstly, she’s quick and has the ability to use her speed to get turnover ball,’’ McCausland-Durie said.
``She has the ability to grow quickly and to learn. We saw this at Super Club when she was able to transfer from theory to practise really quickly.
``The other piece that she also does really well is that she’s got a very strong conditioning base so has a really high work rate whether it be from goal or wing defence.’’
Deciding against signing an import for next season, McCausland-Durie has no concerns about the four youngsters she will have in the ranks.
``It indicates they have always tracked ahead of their own age groups,’’ she said. ``They are very talented players that have had opportunity to be exposed to the rigours of a high performance environment from an early age.
``First and foremost, this decision allows us to grow our own players. Renee is born and bred in Wellington and has played all her netball through Wellington and that’s a really big part of who we are, to commit to growing our own people.
``It’s also a reflection of our commitment to growing players who can continue to step up, above this level and through to international. Picking players who have been nationally identified gives them and us an opportunity to continue to grow netball, not only for Central but for New Zealand.’’
Netball New Zealand is pleased to announce the 2017/18 Silver Ferns Squad and Development Squad, as well as the teams to compete in the Netball Quad Series and Taini Jamison Trophy.
The 16-player Silver Ferns squad features three new faces including NZU21s shooter Monica Falkner, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse midcourter Whitney Souness and Silvermoon Tactix defender Temalisi Fakahokotau who makes her return to the national programme after playing two Tests in 2014.
The squad has a combined total of 420 Test Caps, while the Development Squad features three players from the victorious NZU21 team, as well as the return of Ameliaranne Ekenasio following the birth of her first child.
Silver Ferns coach Janine Southby says she was impressed with the performances at trials, particularly the young players coming through.
“This is a crucial time for us as we countdown to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April,” Southby said.
“Our upcoming matches against Australia, South Africa and England will provide further opportunities for us to build combinations and expose players to the intensity of Test Match Netball.
“There is some exciting, young talent coming through and we’ve seen them stand up and consistently deliver under pressure in the ANZ Premiership and at Netball World Youth Cup. Now we’ll get the opportunity to test them on the international stage.”
The Silver Ferns will open their international season in Brisbane on Saturday 26 August against South Africa’s SPAR Proteas in the Netball Quad Series.
2017/18 Silver Ferns Squad
Name – 2017 Team
Gina Crampton – Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Kayla Cullen - Northern Stars
Temalisi Fakahokotau – Silvermoon Tactix
Monica Falkner - WBOP Magic
Shannon Francois – Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Katrina Grant – Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse
Kelly Jury - WBOP Magic
Phoenix Karaka – Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse
Bailey Mes – SKYCITY Mystics
Grace Rasmussen - WBOP Magic
Te Paea Selby-Rickit – Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Samantha Sinclair - WBOP Magic
Whitney Souness - Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse
Maria Tutaia - SKYCITY Mystics
Jane Watson – Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Maia Wilson - Northern Stars
Silver Ferns team – Netball Quad Series
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
Whitney Souness (on debut)
Silver Ferns team – Taini Jamison Trophy
Monica Falkner (on debut)
Te Paea Selby-Rickit
2017/18 Silver Ferns Development Squad
Name – 2017 Team/Zone
Ellie Bird - Silvermoon Tactix
Ameliaranne Ekenasio – Netball Central
Abby Erwood – Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Jamie Hume – Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel
Claire Kersten – Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse
Tiana Metuarau - Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse
Erikana Pedersen – Silvermoon Tactix
Storm Purvis – SKYCITY Mystics
Michaela Sokolich-Beatson – SKYCITY Mystics
Zoe Walker – Silvermoon Tactix
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