Sarah Guiney happy to make NZSS netball squad

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

Netball New Zealand recently announced a 2022 New Zealand Secondary School squad who will come together for a trial camp in October.

The 24-strong squad will take part in a four-day camp later this year which will also act as a trial from which a NZSS team and NZSS A Selection side will be named.

Included in this group are three Wellington players, Caitlin Lafaele and Phoenix Schwalger (both St Mary’s College) and Sarah Guiney (Samuel Marsden Collegiate).

Year 12 Marsden player Sarah was pleased with her selection, reflecting much hard work and commitment on and off the court.

“I found out I was in this squad two days before it came out online, and I was really excited to see my name there because I have never played in such a high level before and with some many amazing players,” said Sarah.

“I made the Aotearoa Māori New Zealand Secondary Squad too, so I had to choose between them. It was a hard choice, but I chose the New Zealand squad. They clash at the end of the year, and they play each other so I couldn’t play in both.”

Erana Ngarimu (St Mary’s College) Kate McHardy (Wellington Girls’ College) and Kiara-Leigh Davidson-Korewha (St Mary’s) are the other Wellington players recently selected in the Aotearoa Māori squad.

Selection to the NZSS squad involved a series of camps starting with 85 players, Netball New Zealand’s Zone feed forward process and the recent U18 National Championships (see below).

“I trialled last year for the NZSS squad, and I got into the last camp but I didn’t make the squad, so it was really good to get into two teams this year!”

Sarah has been selected in the NZSS squad primarily as a shooter, but one of her strengths is her versatility and ability to play well anywhere on court.

“Sometimes I play goal shoot or goal attack and other times defence, so I am happy to fill in where the team needs me.”

Marsden’s Senior A side has had a couple of injury disruptions this so far this season, so these attributes have been beneficial in some matches.

They are currently playing in the College Sport Wellington Regional (RSSL) competition.

There are two rounds to play over the next two Mondays before finals night on 22 August at the ASB Centre in Kilbirnie. St Mary’s are the unbeaten leaders and Marsden are second. Marsden’s games coming up are against Wellington East and Sacred Heart.

St Mary’s beat Marsden 34-28 in last year’s RSSL final, and defeated them 12-8 in the final of this year’s pre-season one-day Paul Cameron Cup tournament.

Six-time defending champions St Mary’s are always the team to beat, but Sarah said Queen Margaret College are amongst their keen rivals this year. “We beat them by about 20 goals, but it was a hard game.”

Coming up in Winter Tournament Week is the Lower North Island Secondary School tournament (LNISS), from which the top five schools qualify for the NZSS tournament in Porirua in October. This is a re-schedule from last year as it was cancelled because of Covid.

“At the start of the year, our team came up with a couple of goals. One of them was to do well at LNISS so we could go to Nationals.”

Sarah and centre Eva Whitfield are co-captains of Marsden’s team this year.

Sarah has been a regular member of Marsden’s Senior A team for three years, having first been in the group as a reserve the previous season whilst in year 9.

Sarah, Eva, 2021 Marsden NZSS squad member Rachel Price (left school) and St Mary’s pair Kiara-Leigh and head girl Erana were all in the Wellington Black team that finished fourth at the Netball New Zealand U18 tournament a fortnight ago on Christchurch.

“I thought we all played really well together, especially growing all our connections on court. At the other tournaments prior to the Nationals, we were a bit slow, but we really came together in Christchurch. All of the days up to the last day were great. We lost by one goal to Waitakere [29-30] in the semi-final so went close.”

Waitakere went on to lose to host team Christchurch Red in the final, while Wellington missed out to Hamilton City 37-17 to settled for a fourth placed finish.

Of note Hutt Valley were 13th and Kapi-Mana 25th in the 38-strong U18 tournament.

Of the other players noted above, Wellington Girls’ Kate McHardy and St Mary’s NZSS squad members Phoenix Schwalger and Caitlin Lafaele were in the Wellington U16 Black representative team that were beaten 21-31 by Waitakere 1 in the final of last month’s North Island Junior Netball Championships in New Plymouth.

Sarah has previously played in the Netball Wellington Year 9 and U16 representative teams.

Born in Taihape and spending the early part of her life living in Dubai before moving to Wellington aged 10, she started playing netball when she was young. She is also a volleyball player and plays outside in volleyball.