August 16, 2021
Top shots Tiana Metuarau and Aliyah Dunn will reunite to spearhead a potent Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse shooting combination for the 2022 ANZ Premiership netball league.
Starting her career with the Pulse as a 16-year-old schoolgirl in 2017, Metuarau, 20, returns home after spending a productive 2021 season with the Southern Steel. Gaining more game time exposure provided the impetus for the talented playmaking goal attack to add maturity to her all-round game as she unleashed a dynamic presence.
Subtle court craft, explosive movement and surety on the shot are key elements to her game and she delivered on all fronts this season, her growing stature rewarded with inclusion in the 2021/22 Silver Ferns squad.
The long-limbed Dunn, 21, a replacement player for the Steel in 2017 has stayed put at the Pulse since moving north in 2018, and will return for a fifth season in 2022 after crafting her career in the yellow and black strip.
Blessed with an unflappable temperament, Dunn has continued to evolve her game at the elite level, extra subtlety and movement adding to her already well-established accuracy and volume credentials. She finished the last three seasons as the most accurate New Zealand shooter in the league with 92, 91 and 90 percent returns, respectively. A fine rebounder, Dunn has sure hands and exhibits strong positional play.
``We have seen this combination perform well in the past and remember fondly what they were like when they were a lot younger, they’ve both matured and we look forward to further growth,’’ Netball Central Director of High Performance Wai Taumaunu said of the pair.
``It was a tough decision for Tiana and one she wasn’t expecting but study and family were a part of it. There was always the expectation that she would be back at some stage. She has made the decision on her own, and believes it is the right one for her.’’
The shooting duo first joined forces when they were team-mates in the 2017 World Youth Cup winning NZU21 team, the teenagers suiting up together again the following year in their formative days at the Pulse.
With the stars now aligning for a third time, and despite their still relatively tender years, the shot-makers have a lot more mileage and street smarts under their belts. Metuarau has played 73 ANZ Premiership matches and Dunn 62 to leave this evolving combination an exciting prospect.
Ameliaranne Ekenasio, who missed the 2021 campaign due to pregnancy, has confirmed she won’t be returning to the Pulse in 2022, the process of filling the quota of a third shooter underway.
In-coming coach Yvette McCausland-Durie is delighted with the signings of the two young shooters.
``This has been a partnership that has worked in the past and it’s a real positive to have homegrown talent (Metuarau) return home,’’ she said.
``The game time she’s had with the Steel has given her a great opportunity to progress and that has to be celebrated when seeing her jump from the NZU21 squad to now be included in the Silver Ferns squad.
``Aliyah is a terrifically accurate shooter and I’m expecting the pair to go well together. They are both still young players and that’s exciting because it leaves plenty of room for growth and development.
``This is deja vu of 2017 when Ameliaranne was out with pregnancy and Tiana came in and we went on to reach the Grand Final.’’
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