After losing the final at last year's national under-23 netball tournament, the Rotorua men's team had a point to prove in 2017.

They did just that as they went through the tournament unbeaten before beating last year's champions, North Harbour, 54-42 in the final.

There were five teams in the tournament, played in Invercargill this month, Rotorua, North Harbour, Waikato Tanui, Christchurch and an Australian under-17 side who were not eligible for finals.

Rotorua cruised through the round robin, beating North Harbour 49-41, Waikato 50-31, Australia 56-33 and Christchurch 58-18.


In the semi-final, they came up against Christchurch and dispatched them comfortably again, 57-26, before winning in what is becoming a gripping rivalry with North Harbour in the final.

Rotorua coach Hemi McKinney said his side led the whole way in the final.

"We broke away in the fourth quarter. We've worked on fitness and cohesiveness, the team culture was great.

"The team has been training hard the whole year. All aspects of netball they did well, they stuck to the game plan and produced some marvellous netball," McKinney said.

While he emphasised the win was a team effort, Rotorua goal shoot Piripi Matthews was named most valuable player for the tournament.

"I think his goal average [for the tournament] was 95 per cent and he only missed two goals in the final," McKinney said.

He said the team's preparations were boosted by the help of Sunshine Coast Lightning netballer Erena Mikaere, who is from Rotorua.

"She's played in the ANZ Premiership for a long time and she actually came down and took some training sessions with our boys.

"We also have to make special mention to Trinity Tumarae, he showed senior leadership as a training partner with our under-23 team, making sure they showed up at training and sharing all his knowledge of the game of netball."

McKinney said men's netball was growing as a sport, but there was not an abundance of tournaments to take part in.

"The main tournaments we play in are mixed nationals in Auckland at Easter weekend every year and men's nationals in September. I have to look around for teams to play against, like the premier women's teams in Rotorua, otherwise it's just looking out for men's and mixed tournaments in the North Island to try and get them that court time.

"The stereotype we always get is that it's a female sport, but it's slowly growing. We try and promote it on Facebook and get the word out there."

Eleven players from the Rotorua squad were selected for New Zealand trials in Wellington later this year and the team won the tournament's fair play award.