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Resilient Metuarau fashions a rare record

Tiana Metuarau is acknowledged by her team-mates and the Steel team following her milestone 100th game. Photo: PhotoWellington

In a rare turn of events, Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse centurion Tiana Metuarau has probably got more of her netball career in front of her than what has gone before.

At just 22, the play-making goal attack has reached veteran status already, becoming the youngest player to notch 100 national league outings and the first to reach the milestone across just one league, the ANZ Premiership.

In between, Metuarau has swapped school books for university books but her ability to marshall the attack line through an influential combination of explosive power, subtle finesse and pin-point vision has remained unchanged.

Coming into the Pulse as a 16-year-old schoolgirl as a replacement player in 2017, Metuarau has gone through a mix of ups and downs in the intervening years, subsequently rising to permanent starter and co-captaincy status.

``It actually feels like it’s gone fast but I would say, there have been years when it felt really slow,’’ she said on reflection.

``There were times when I was only touching the court for maybe 10 minutes per game, but learnt a lot and I think sport makes you really resilient which is something I think I have become within a really short time.

``I just feel quite lucky, very fortunate to have had consecutive seasons and thankfully, come out of each of them unscathed, so I’m just really grateful.’’

In a unique situation, Metuarau joined Whitney Souness and Kristiana Manu’a as fellow Pulse centurions in the space of a couple of weeks which created a special buzz in the team.

Souness and Metuarau got to play on their favourite courts for the occasion, Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua, and TSB Arena, Wellington respectively while Manua’s partner and mother flew over from Australia to coincide with the Pulse’s recent rise in fortunes.

With a bucketload of experience under her belt now, the netball world remains Metuarau’s oyster.

``There are no limits really and I feel like every season I’ve got better, which is a credit to the environments that I’ve been in. The players that I’ve been around and the coaches that I’ve had have really helped me with that,’’ she said

``So, I think as long as I’m really mindful about those things and intentional in my training, I don’t know what the next few years will look like but hopefully, in four or five years I’m twice the athlete, player and person that I am now.’’

After four straight losses, the Pulse have clicked into gear over the past two weeks to get themselves right back in the mix and have their third outing against the Stars, in Wellington on Saturday, with the ledger standing at one win apiece.

``We really had to do a bit of soul-searching at that time following the losses,’’ Metuarau said. ``We almost didn’t really know what was going wrong and I suppose with the calibre and the players we have in this team, it was a little bit confronting, almost.

``But once we actually sat down together and had this full-on cultural session, broke things down and got to know each other a little bit better, which I think is a bit under-estimated in terms of how to improve a team, that has definitely helped us.

``I think we have improved in multiple areas and quite drastically in the best way possible, so we just want to keep doing that and keep being better than what we were in the previous game.’’

Metuarau is full of praise for how her off-sider in the shooting circle Amelia Walmsley has slotted into the demands of top-flight netball.

``It’s the quickness with which she’s improved, that’s the thing that I’ve found most notable,’’ Metuarau said. ``She was on the bench for most of last season, so to come in and just own her role is pretty phenomenal for someone who’s only 19. She’s doing really well.’’

Metuarau is hoping to graduate from Victoria University next year with a Bachelor of Arts in Te reo Māori and Education.



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