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Young Pulse shooter relishing return to action

Pulse shooter Khiarna Williams is delighted to be back in action after an injury-ravaged two years. Photo: PhotoWellington

Overcoming significant physical and mental challenges, it’s still one step at a time for talented young Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse shooter Khiarna Williams following a lengthy absence from ANZ Premiership netball action.

Emerging from a horror two years which included major back and shoulder surgery, Williams made a successful return to the elite level in her debut for the Pulse in their opening round win with a brief cameo. 

``It was exciting to be back out there after such a long time. Obviously, nerves were quite high but it was good to be finally back on court,’’ she said.

``The last couple of years have definitely been hard. There were moments where I’ve thought, `can I still do it, will I still be good enough to play at this level’, so it took me a while to figure things out.

``I had to find the love for it again which I did and which is why I’m here with the Pulse team.’’

The 1.83m Williams, who can play both shooting roles, made her mark at an early age through her athleticism and aerial skills. Playing National League Netball at the age of 14 and with two years under her belt at the Magic, Williams was poised for higher honours before injury intervened.

The 21-year-old is the perfect fit at the Pulse shooting end alongside Tiana Metuarau, 23, and Amelia Walmsley, 20, who form the youngest scoring trio in the league but one that oozes talent.

Her first serious setback was a car accident, resulting in her spine being broken in three different places, while driving to a netball camp in 2021.

``It was very scary and at the time, Covid was quite big still, so I wasn’t really allowed anyone in the hospital with me,’’ she said. ``My parents were staying in Rotorua not far away but I didn’t have anyone there, so it was a bit scary when I first went in and a bit lonely.

``I was pretty much told that I wouldn’t be able to play any netball at all if I didn’t have the surgery, so that was the decision made, really.

``After the surgery, I initially, could only walk a few metres and then I’d get sore and tired. It was like being a little toddler, learning to walk, learning to do all these basic movements like squatting and bending over.’’

As the recovery momentum improved, Williams was back playing club netball in her home town of Whakatane towards the end of 2022 during which she ``popped a shoulder.’’

A scan indicated it would keep popping out if she didn’t have surgery and that resulted in missing the entire 2023 season by which time she had been contracted as a Pulse training partner.

With her end goal always being to get back to netball at some level, Williams cuts a relaxed figure these days.

``I’m just looking at re-establishing myself and doing my best to play good netball. In a way, I’m starting again and at the moment, still finding my way a bit,’’ she said.

Williams is grateful for the faith shown by former NZ U21 and Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie in helping reignite her career.

``I guess it was her confidence in me that helped me make the decision to come down here,’’ she said. ``Seeing that she had that faith in me and the belief that I could still play at this level and do well.

`And, I love it here. I think our team culture’s really cool and this is probably one of my favourite teams I’ve played for.’’

There will be some familiar faces in the opposition for Williams when the Pulse meet her former team, the Magic in Round 2 action at TSB Arena in Wellington on Saturday. The Magic also include Ameliaranne Ekenasio and Saviour Tui, who will be making a return to their old stomping ground.

For the Pulse, Metuarau will miss her second straight match as she continues to recover from a foot niggle.



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