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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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