2021 ANZ Premiership: Under 21s to watch

THE ANZ Premiership season is just around the corner now and with that comes some new and exciting faces to the league. There has been a multitude of changes across the league over the off-season with some experienced names set to ply their trade in new colours for 2021, while player movement has also made way for some young talent to secure a spot in their respective rosters. We take a look at some of the up and coming players set to take the competition by storm ahead of the 2021 ANZ season.

Each player under the microscope in this article is under the age of 21, highlighting just how much depth of talent is on show in the ANZ Premiership. Neither the Tactix or Stars have players within this particular bracket.

Northern Mystics:

Grace Nweke
Technically only entering into her second season in the ANZ Premiership, Nweke is arguably one of the most damaging goalers in the competition. Her strength under the post is undeniable, constantly able to ward off defenders with her body positioning and aerial presence. She is a real livewire credit to the way in which she attacks the game and commands the ball, such is her stature and belief. Nweke is only going to get better with age and exposure, able to withstand the physical nature of the game already and back herself in with her strong hands. Her fancy footwork along the baseline and overall control are something to behold and only entering her second full season, Nweke will be eager to add more strings to her bow this season.

Saviour Tui
Yet to turn 20, Saviour Tui is an explosive option for the Mystics with her versatility a key component in her game. Her ability to transition from goal shooter to goal attack in a heartbeat is impressive, as is her endurance. Tui is a cool, calm and collected customer who does not rely solely on her height to get the ball but can use her front cuts and drives to open up the space. she is incredibly strong in the air and when playing in goal shooter can dictate the play with great ease to create attacking forays. Her work rate is unquestionable and with further exposure at the highest level possible could become even more damaging.

Tayla Earle
There is no denying that Tayla Earle often flies under the radar given the amount of talent around her, however the midcourter is a key cog for the Mystics with her movement and vision vital to their success. She is an incredibly hard worker who uses her tank to run all day and connect the defensive and attacking third while her netball smarts only continue to develop. Earle can dictate the flow of the game thanks to her ability to read the play and whether it requires quick transition down the court or a cautious approach down the court. Her footwork is solid, as is her ball control to reel in those questionable passes. Her ability to swing from defence to attack is another vital aspect to her game play.

Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic:

Khiarna Williams
The young goaler had a breakout second half to the season last year, impressing in her limited minutes out on court and is set for another big season. Although she is not the tallest player out on court, her leap enables her to get up to the high ball and her deceptively long arms allow her to reel in passes. Her fancy footwork is a key feature in her game, as is her spatial awareness to command the ball and angle her body to the advantage of the ball drop. Williams has proven to be highly adaptable playing in both goal shooter and goal attack and will be looking to add to her repertoire in 2021 to become even more well-rounded.

Georgie Edgecombe
An exciting yet very raw prospect for the Magic is Georgie Edgecombe. In what will be her first official season with Waikato Bay of Plenty, Edgecombe will be eager to use her footspeed and ball placement to the best of her ability and deliver the ball on a silver platter to the goalers. An unassuming type of player that just gets the job done, Edgecombe could fly under the radar but is a real work horse who can effectively switch between goal defence, wing defence and even centre. Her defensive tendencies are a real key.

Central Pulse:

Maddy Gordon
It was a breakout season for Maddy Gordon last year with the pocket-rocket well and truly taking the competition by storm credit to her quick hands around circle edge, vision into the goalers and composure. Her balance and timing in attack was a real game changer as was her defensive pressure, able to pick off passes and contest the ball. Her flexibility to rotate between wing attack, centre and wing defence will once again be key for the Pulse who are littered with newcomers across the court.

Paris Lokotui
In her first season after being a training partner in 2020, Paris Lokotui will be gearing up for a chance to ply her trade whether it be through the midcourt or in the defensive circle. Her sheer athleticism enables her to do damage in a host of positions, and pair that with her tenacity and Lokotui is an exciting player for the Pulse. She is not opposed to a bit of niggle and is more than capable of winning back her fair share of ball.

Parris Mason
At only 19-years of age, Parris Mason has plenty of development left in her but has shown a lot of promise earning a call-up to the main squad for the 2021 season. A highly talented circle defender, Mason is not afraid to back herself in for the intercept and has the timing to do so. She can effectively swing between all three defensive positions using her netball smarts to inflict pain time and time again.

Southern Steel:

Tiana Metuarau
Joining her new club this season, Tiana Metuarau is an experienced campaigner despite her young age. Looking for more consistent game time, expect Metuarau to bring her signature flair, timing along the baseline and innate quick hands to the Steel line-up. She can dominant games when given enough time and space such is her composed mindset while her footwork is also highly impressive, whilst her versatility to swing between goals and wing attack could prove crucial for her new side.

Ali Wilshier
Signing on for the 2021 season, Ali Wilshier is an exciting midcourter that will provide that dash through the centre and engage in that one-two play around circle edge with the goalers. Her clever footwork allows her to hit circle edge with nothing but pace and precision while her deft touches keep defenders guessing.

Taneisha Fifita
The young defender is arguably one of the most physical in the competition and while that often sees her catch the eye of the umpire, it also gives her an edge, enabling her to get into the head of opposition goalers. Her constant pressure on the shooter paired with her hunt is what makes her such a force to be reckoned with down in defence for the Steel. Further time to solidify her standings and hone in her craft will do her well, especially if she can maintain the physicality but stay away from the whistle.

Kate Heffernan
Kate Heffernan is one of those players that just oozes athleticism and makes her work out on court look effortless. Showing glimpses of magic in 2020, expect her to find some level of consistency this season and really become a lockdown wing defence able to shut down her opponent with her long arms and deceptively quick feet. She is a real livewire that can change the course of a game in an instant credit to her read of the play and star power to swat away passes and create a strong barrier in defence. Heffernan can also push into the centre, credit to her game awareness and endurance levels.

Kiana Pelasio
An up and coming goaler that will be looking to find her rhythm, Kiana Pelasio has a big season ahead of her. Showing patches of potential, Pelasio will be eager to iron out any kinks and make a name for herself with her clever drives to open up the circle and command the ball on a more regular basis.

Sarapheinna Woulf
Keep an eye out for Sarapheinna Woulf with the highly versatile and talented player able to ply her trade in multiple positions across the court. Predominantly a defender given that is where she does her best work, Woulf is able to pop up and play wherever required. She has an impressive skillset, is not afraid to put her body on the line and given she is only turning 21 this year, has a wealth of development still left in her.

Renee Savai’inaea
Former Central Pulse midcourter, Renee Savai’inaea has joined forces with the Steel this season and will be keen to implement her defensive skillset for her new side. Accustomed to playing circle defence, Savai’inaea has added extra strings to her bow and is becoming a real threat through the midcourt with her closing speed, read of the play and defensive nous allowing her to cherry pick passes and cause havoc.

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