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.’’
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