Metuarau welcomes opportunity with Steel

Southern Steel-bound shooter Tiana Metuarau is looking forward to a new challenge in 2021.

The New Zealand under-21 rep, who won back-to-back 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 19-year-old 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 Cup-winning New Zealand under-21 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 $30million in 2019.

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

ACC Injury prevention leader Kirsten Malpas said in recent years ACL injuries had become more prevalent in 10-19-year-old 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 warm-up.

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.

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