Tūhourangi netballer Erena Mikaere is one step away from netball glory as her Sunshine Coast Lightning take on the Giants in the Australian domestic netball final on Saturday. Mikaere reunites with Laura Langman, and coach Noeline Taurua who were part of the Waikato Bay Of Plenty team that won the ANZ Championship in 2012.
Sunshine Coast is a home away from home for Mikaere, and it's a move that has paid off.
Mikaere says, “Going along to our games, you can hear my name being pronounced from the crowd correctly, so it's nice. So I guess I hear my name and I just turn around. Like a lot of us with Laura and that, they're calling out.
Coach Noeline Taurua happy to have Mikaere and Langman on her roster this season. For Mikaere, it seems like you can take the girl out of her hometown of Rotorua, but you can't take Rotorua out of the girl.
“She always offer that awhi (support), and that manaakitanga (kindness) which is really not necessarily foreign to Australian soil, but, it definitely provides a bit of impetus and also substance for our club,” says Taurua (Ngāti Whātua).
Mikaere and her teammates have been working hard since defeating the Melbourne Vixens. A lot has changed since that historical win for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic back in 2012 where they won the now defunct ANZ Championship.
“…she's just working us in easily. But I think maybe, she's lost a little bit [of toughness], she's a little bit soft, but I don't want to say cause she'll probably make me run more.”
With Mikaere also being eligible to play for Australia, this weekend's grand-final is a great opportunity to push for international selection.
“If that takes me to any selections, then that is essentially where I want to be. I just want to do my very best.”
Netball fans, Australia and New Zealand included, will be hoping that Taurua can pull off the unthinkable and win the Australian domestic netball championship.