Shy and reserved off-court, 1.89m Central Manawa shooter Saviour Tui cuts a different figure on the court with her ever-present smile and growing stature in the Beko Netball League.
Exclusively a goal shoot when she first made the Manawa team as a 16-year-old last year, the unpretentious Tui, one of three schoolgirls in the side, has since added goal attack to her growing resume and is now comfortable playing both shooting roles.
A special talent with a willingness to learn, Tui, who became a regular starter in her first year, is now an old hand and was this year elevated to Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse training partner status as her career continues to gain traction.
``Being in my second year, I have known what to expect which has made it easier but there are still heaps of challenges,’’ she said. ``Being a Pulse training partner has been a great experience. I’ve really enjoyed that and have been learning heaps.’’
In her last year at St Mary’s College, in Wellington, which has proved a productive nursery for budding netball talent, Tui was a member of the New Zealand Secondary Schools team last year and has made the squad again this year.
Not a natural talker, Tui’s happy place is on the court where her smile remains a constant whatever the situation, last year being dubbed `the smiling assassin’ by her team-mates. Her Manawa coach Pelesa Semu is left to fill in the gaps and has plenty to say on the progress the teenage talent has made.
``Other than her youth and associated energy that brings to the team, Saviour is a very accurate shooter and she’s learning the goal attack position really well which she only started playing last year,’’ Semu said.
``She’s brought that experience into this year’s campaign which has been really great and means she is now able to play both shooting positions really well. She’s running great lines, they’re really clear and her game understanding of that position has grown in leaps and bounds and, more importantly, she’s enjoying it.
``Every year, every training, she just gets better and better. That’s what you want to see and it’s what this competition is all about. It’s around development, it’s around just seeing their growth from where they started and that’s been really evident from her.
``She’s a great athlete. She’s learnt a lot around what performance looks like, understanding training and what that means, the gym, the strength and conditioning. She has taken all that onboard seamlessly.
``She’s happy and cheerful in her work and has always got a smile on her face despite how hard training sessions or a game might be. She’s very coachable, very willing to learn, is always open to feedback and I’m looking forward to seeing how far she is going to go.’’
Recording three wins from four outings so far, Manawa will meet the Northern Marvels in Auckland on Sunday after coming off a bye.