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Leap into the unknown pays off for young Pulse defender

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Some things are just meant to be and for rising young Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse netball defender Elle Temu, the choice to relocate has provided the perfect tonic for a speedy transformation.

Invited to trial for last year’s Central Manawa Beko Netball League team, progress was rapid from the get-go for the strapping 1.88m in-circle defender. At the first trial, Temu gained a contract as a Pulse training partner for the season while captaining Manawa to back-to-back Beko titles.

This year there was another rise, to fully contracted Pulse player, heralding an unexpected change in fortune, and another example of Netball Central’s ability to nurture exciting young talent.

It’s been great, I’ve loved every opportunity and I’m really grateful. It’s all just happened really fast,’’ she said.

I’m just a different person since moving to Wellington from Auckland and not just netball-wise. Off-court, it has meant moving out of home and now doing everything that an adult does…….cooking, cleaning, laundry.

But then on-court I have grown as well. This is my fulltime job now. And it’s not just about training, it’s the whole package, nutrition, hydration, sleep, it’s just everything. I’ve learnt this whole new athlete life.

I have missed my family, friends and partner a lot. That has definitely been the hardest part but coming down here, I’ve made lifelong friends, learnt lots and played some of my best netball ever, especially last year with the Beko team.

I’m living out my childhood dream which is awesome and there are no regrets.’’

A former New Zealand Secondary School player, Temu, 19, played for the Northern Marvels in 2017 and is a product of Mount Albert Grammar School which has proved a fruitful nursery for budding netball talent over the years.

Getting a full Pulse contract for 2019 took Temu by surprise. It was something she definitely wanted but it just came a lot sooner than expected.

In the last round, Temu played a full game for the Manawa team before backing up with a strong cameo in the Pulse’s big win over the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic in ANZ Premiership action. An astute reader of the game with an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, the rangy defender got her best opportunity at the elite level to date when given a solid 10 minutes to help close out the game.

Obviously, court time has been limited but I’m just taking every opportunity I can with two hands,’’ she said. I had a few nerves at the start but then realised that this is what I love, this is what I’m doing and to just enjoy it. It doesn’t come often, so it was about taking the chance, getting what I could out of it and giving it my all.’’

There is strong support from afar for Temu, her partner Isaiah Papali’I plays for the Warriors rugby league team, the long-distance relationship providing challenges but also an understanding of their respective sporting roles.

Because he’s also an athlete, he knows what it’s like, he gets it,’’ she said. He’s training all the time, I’m training all the time so when we are together, it’s just about chilling out and having fun. He has supported me all the way which is great but the long-distance factor is definitely hard.’’

Finding her niche in Wellington, it would seem Temu, for now, has found the balance to make her personal and sporting lives work.

The whole Pulse group are like this massive family,’’ she said. I just really enjoy coming to training. That’s what is so great about this team, I don’t dread going to training, it’s just such a fun environment. It’s not a chore whereas in the past, it has been a bit of a grind at times. Here it’s just so much fun and I really enjoy the environment.’’

The unbeaten Pulse meet the Tactix in Christchurch on Monday.

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