Robinhood Stars defender Elle Temu has confirmed she will not be available for the 2024 ANZ Premiership with plans to head to Australia next year.
The circle defender, who made her debut for the Silver Ferns last year, will join her partner Isaiah Papali’i who plays rugby league in the NRL and is based in Sydney with the West Tigers.
Temu, 24, said it had been a difficult decision to step away from New Zealand’s elite domestic league but she was also looking forward to spending time with her partner.
“It has been a tough few years where our sporting commitments have meant we are rarely in the same place at the same time,” she said. “This is my opportunity to take some time out and join Isaiah in Australia.
“Netball will however remain a focus for me and after my taste in the black dress last year, I know that I’m certainly not finished with the Silver Ferns.”
The sporting duo have spent little time together in recent years, due firstly to the global pandemic, and with Papali’i moving from the Warriors to Australian-based teams the Parramatta Eels and then the West Tigers this year.
After beginning her career in 2019 with the Te Wānanga o Raukawa Pulse, Temu moved home and joined the Stars in 2021 and has developed into one of the ANZ Premiership’s premier defenders and thrived from having the opportunity to play regular netball.
“Learning under Anna Harrison has been awesome, she gave me confidence to play my own game and taught me a lot and that’s given me a lot of confidence this year to lead the defensive end which has been new. Kiri Wills has also given me a lot of confidence and helped me play consistent netball. Once you’re given the chance to play that’s when people can see what you’re capable of and I’m grateful I got that opportunity here.”
Stars coach Kiri Wills has praised the growth of Temu during her time with the Stars.
“Elle is an exceptional netball player because she reads the game very well. She came to us with not a lot of court time and needed a lot of support around the strength and conditioning area and with that and playing with Anna Harrison, her career has taken off. Wills explained.
“We’re going to miss her. She’s a very good person off the court as well. You want someone like Elle in your life. She’s fun, full of life and a genuine all round good girl.”
Temu’s played over 50 ANZ Premiership games and helped the Stars to back to back grand finals, but the friendships she’s formed with her teammates is one of the things she’ll cherish most.
“The team culture has been awesome and it’s a job I’ve loved coming to. In some teams training can become tiring and a bit of a drag, but I really enjoyed turning up every day and hanging out with the team outside of netball. I think it’s something I’ll remember the most, especially this year. I think that’s why it was such a hard decision to make, because I love the team.” Temu explained.
Temu, who is the daughter of former Warriors and Newcastle league player Jason Temu, said she was not certain what next year would hold for her in terms of playing netball, but hoped to be involved at some level in Australia.
Having played in this year’s ANZ Premiership, Temu will remain in contention for the Silver Ferns international schedule for the remainder of the year.