Otago Daily Times

Me­t­u­a­rau wel­comes opportunit­y with Steel

NET­BALL

- STAFF REPORTER Sports · New Zealand · Dunedin

SOUTH­ERN Steel­bound shooter Tiana Me­t­u­a­rau is look­ing for­ward to a new chal­lenge in 2021.

The New Zealand un­der­21 rep, who won back­to­back ANZ Pre­mier­ship ti­tles with the Cen­tral Pulse, is look­ing for­ward to play­ing a prom­i­nent role with the Steel next sea­son.

‘‘I'm ex­cited to get down there and get into the pre­sea­son with the team,’’ the 19­year­old said.

‘‘I’ve heard re­ally good things about Dunedin, apart from its a bit colder down there.

‘‘But I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing in a new environmen­t and a new chal­lenge.’’

Af­ter four sea­sons with the Pulse, the promis­ing at­tacker is look­ing to help the Steel turn around af­ter it fin­ished fifth in 2020.

Me­t­u­a­rau has had

to be pa­tient at the

Pulse, of­ten sit­ting on the bench while

Aliyah Dunn and Sil­ver

Ferns cap­tain

Ameliarann­e

Eke­na­sio held court.

‘‘It’ll be good for me to get out of my com­fort zone,’’ Me­t­u­a­rau said.

‘‘The last cou­ple of sea­sons have been awe­some with the Pulse but I’m keen to get off the bench and be in the action more so I can con­tinue my de­vel­op­ment as a player.’’

Me­t­u­a­rau, even at 19, is some­what of a sea­soned pro­fes­sional.

The daugh­ter of Sil­ver Ferns leg­end Waimarama Tau­maunu, she played a lead­ing role in the last World Youth Cup­win­ning New Zealand un­der­21 team.

She has also ex­pe­ri­enced the lows of the game as well when she suf­fered a menis­cus knee in­jury last sea­son which re­quired surgery.

‘‘It was tax­ing both phys­i­cally and men­tally.

‘‘I found it hard.

‘‘Once you have been through the hard times, you do get some added mo­ti­va­tion to look af­ter your body and pre­vent se­ri­ous in­juries be­cause you know how long it takes to re­cover from them.

‘‘So that's al­ways at the back of my mind when I'm warm­ing up.’’

Me­t­u­a­rau’s in­jury ex­pe­ri­ence is timely at the Steel, which lost shoot­ers Jen­nifer O'Con­nell and Ge­or­gia Hef­fer­nan to painful ACL in­juries in 2020.

‘‘It’s aw­ful to watch play­ers suf­fer an ACL in­jury,’’ she said. ‘‘It just fur­ther high­lights the need for our Net­ball Smart pro­gramme.’’

Net­ball con­tin­ues to be the biggest con­trib­u­tor to fe­male sport re­lated in­juries in New Zealand, with more than 25,000 ACC claims, which came at a cost of $30 mil­lion in 2019.

ACC has in­creased its in­vest­ment into Net­ball Smart to $3.6 mil­lion over the next three years.

ACC In­jury preven­tion leader Kirsten Mal­pas said in re­cent years ACL in­juries had be­come more preva­lent in 10­19­yearold fe­males, where pre­vi­ously this in­jury was seen as a pro­fes­sional sports in­jury.

Me­t­u­a­rau said it was im­por­tant to teach the younger gen­er­a­tion the cor­rect tech­nique for a warm­up.

Over the next three years the Net­ball Smart pro­gramme will look to fur­ther en­gage with Maori play­ers, who make up around 25% of the play­ing num­bers.

 ??  ?? Tiana Me­t­u­a­rau
Tiana Me­t­u­a­rau

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