Curtailed by injury, exciting young shooting talent Khiarna Williams is set to reignite her career in Wellington with Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse for the 2024 ANZ Premiership netball league.
Williams will join incumbents Tiana Metuarau and Amelia Walmsley at the shooting end for next season. The Pulse also welcome back an unchanged midcourt trio in the form of Whitney Souness, Maddy Gordon and Fa’amu Ioane while defenders Kelly Jury and Parris Mason complete the eight confirmed for 2024.
Two further players, a midcourter and a defender are still to be finalised for the 10-strong playing roster.
``Retaining seven from this year’s line-up is massive in regards to stability,’’ Pulse coach Anna Andrews-Tasola said.
``There’s been a lot of change in regards to the management group but having the stability of a great group of athletes who have done our Zone really proud in recent years is a great foundation for us heading towards next year’s competition.’’
Originally named as a Pulse training partner for 2023, Williams spent time with Central Manawa and the Pulse early in this year’s pre-season but subsequent surgery on a lingering shoulder injury and a lengthy rehabilitation meant she missed the entire season.
Still only 20, the 1.83m Williams, who can play both shooting positions, made her mark at an early age before injury put the brakes on her progress over the past two years.
Highlighting her pedigree, Williams first played in the National Netball League in 2017 as a 14-year-old out of Trident High School in Whakatane, the same year she made the NZ Secondary Schools team.
By 2020, Williams had stepped into the elite level with Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, showcasing her athletic and aerial skills while always being willing to put the shot up. She took part in the Cadbury Series the same year as a member of the NZU21 squad.
``It’s important we have diversity in the shooting end and being a part of our programme last year, even though it was only for a small amount of time, Khiarna has a lot of potential,’’ Andrews-Tasola said.
``She has shown previously she can step up in big games and will help grow our shooting group, so I’m really excited about having her experience and her youthfulness in the mix.’’
At the defence end, Jury has been an impressive performer in recent years while the talented 20-year-old Mason made big strides during 2023 as a key impact player.
``I’m really proud of Parris, she’s done a lot of hard work and grind over the last couple of years and has really improved,’’ the coach said.
``She’s really competitive and strong, and I’m looking forward to her taking this opportunity and showing us what she’s got for a full 60 minutes, that’s her challenge for next season.’’
In the well-credentialled trio of Souness, Gordon and Fa’amu, the Pulse have the luxury of an unchanged midcourt and with it, the opportunity to further enhance the potent collective unit they formed this year.
``I think we’ve only scratched the surface of what that midcourt group is capable of and also the diversity they bring in being able to slide positionally,’’ Andrews-Tasola said.
2024 Pulse team (two to be added):
Maddy Gordon, Fa’amu Ioane, Kelly Jury, Parris Mason, Tiana Metuarau, Whitney Souness, Amelia Walmsley, Khiarna Williams.
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