Wellington schoolgirl Tiana Metuarau has continued her meteoric rise through the netballing ranks, with the 15-year-old to line up for the Central Pulse in next year's ANZ Permiership.
Metuarau, the daughter of Silver Ferns legend Waimarama Taumaunu, will replace Ameliaranne Ekenasio in the 10-strong Pulse squad. Ekenasio withdrew from the team earlier this week after announcing she and husband Damien are expecting their first child.
A player of exceptional promise, Metuarau has made a habit of defying her tender years with early entry into national secondary school and age-group teams and the Beko League in recent years. Passing those examinations with flying colours has earned the talented shooter a call-up to the elite level.
The youngest player in this year's inaugural Beko League, Metuarau's consistently impressive form was duly recognised with elevation to the New Zealand under-21 team and Silver Ferns Development Squad.
While she had designs on making the Pulse team in the next couple of years, Metuarau's swift elevation has left the unassuming Year 11 Wellington East Girls' College student slightly overwhelmed.
"I'm really excited but very nervous as well," she said. "At this moment, my thoughts about going into the Pulse environment are to mix well with the team, learn as much as I can before the competition starts and give it a good go."
The immediate concern for Metuarau is gunning for a spot in the New Zealand under-21 World Youth Cup team at trials in a fortnight.
Pulse coach Yvette McCausland-Durie has no doubts about the teenager's ability and character to take the leap into the semi-professional ranks in her stride.
"She has got a really bright future and I think what she's achieved so far as a young player really does defy her age," McCausland-Durie said.
"She plays her role fully across all parts of the game....the rebound, the shot, ability to be conditioned and work incredibly hard and in terms of an attacker is highly involved. I feel she's really well rounded and despite her age actually does have an ability to compete, gets out on court and can put everything else aside to do that. She is a hugely exciting player."
As her coach in the Beko League, McCausland-Durie is well aware of Metuarau's make-up and of any concerns that may surround her youthfulness.
"I've seen her in times of challenge, when it's been really tough for her and watched her growth in that respect through the Beko League," she said.
"That was massive exposure for her, it's on television and there's all sorts of expectations but she got better and better and coped with all of the players she came up against, a lot of them were senior players.
"Then to go on and compete for the New Zealand under-21s against Australia, and again show that ability and state of mind ... she's a competitor, she knows that she wants to be a high performance athlete and she's very focused on doing what it takes."
The sidelined Ekenasio is expected to play a strong mentoring role while former shooting great Irene van Dyk will also be on hand in a support role.