Netting a second straight New Zealand Secondary Schools title will be the goal for Saint Kentigern College when they join netball’s leading schools in Rotorua.
The Auckland school is one of 16 New Zealand teams coming together at the Energy Events Centre in Rotorua from October 10-13 to compete at the national secondary schools championships.
The defending champion Saint Kentigern College side, which won the title for the first time last year, returns along with last year’s finalists and fellow Auckland school Mt Albert Grammar School who will be another team to watch.
The annual tournament, which was established in 1993 and is one of the most keenly contested events on the Netball New Zealand calendar, sees 16 teams from the Upper North Island, Lower North Island and South Island go head-to-head over four days.
Saint Kentigern look set to defend their title with two national secondary schools representatives in Tayla Earle and Tori Kolose as well as Ashleigh Garner who played in this year’s Beko Netball League. They won their maiden schools crown last year with a thrilling one-goal finals victory, ending Mt Albert Grammar’s stranglehold on the tournament.
Mt Albert Grammar will be gunning for an unprecedented sixth crown. The team will be coached by Paula Smith who was also part of the Beko League this year and sees the return of Lahaina-Lee Upu-Toparea who is in the national schools side.
The Epsom Girls’ Grammar School team is another one to watch with three NZSS players – Tamara Leoni , Bianca Nagaiya and Greer Sinclair.
Howick College will be making their first appearance at the national tournament.
The four-day tournament will be an opportunity for national selectors Kiri Wills, Mary-Jane Araroa and Charissa Barham to gauge the talent at secondary school level.