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Central Pulse rising star Elle Temu embracing small wins in quest to play international netball

Central Pulse defender Elle Temu knows what the big goal in her netball career is currently, but getting there has been one battle after another.

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The 20-year-old has fought her way to a starting spot but things are just as competitive at home. Source: Tagata Pasifika

Since 2018, Temu has grinded at the Pulse as a development player, meaning she saw little playing time in her first two seasons and had to fight for minutes on the court.

But that all changed this year when she started to establish herself as a key component of Central’s defence and looked to have fought her way to a starting spot in the team’s line-up.

“It’s really cool like, I’m really enjoying every opportunity that I have, I’m just giving it my all,” she told TVNZ1’s Tagata Pasifika.

“Playing with confidence and just giving everything a go. It’s cool to get starting positions.

“I’m like, ‘whoa, I’m not used to it’, so getting it, I’m like, ‘wow, I really need to relish these opportunities because I don’t know if they’ll come up again this season or if they’ll be regular things’.”

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic brought her promising start to the 2020 season to an end. But that’s allowed her to get more family time and pick up a piece of advice or two from her father, Jason Temu, who played professional rugby league in both the NRL and Super League.

Although Temu admits the advice can sometimes turn into more of a lecture.

“He’s a bit tough on me with the ol’ ‘have you trained yet? You have to train harder,’ and he gives me his story like, ‘I used to run 10kms to get to the gym and I was like, ‘yeah, yeah, whatever dad’ but he’s a great supporter.

“Mum’s also always there for us, so it’s so great to have supportive parents.”

Besides her parents, Temu has also been getting support from her partner and Warriors player Isaiah Papali’I who has been training at home alongside her throughout the lockdown.

“I’m really lucky, I’m doing iso with my partner Isaiah, so he’s got a pretty tough schedule to follow and I’ve just been tagging along so I think I’ve been training more than I would be by myself, that’s for sure.”

And even at home, there’s still a healthy dose of rivalry too.

“His mum and dad join in which is quite cool - it’s a competition and you always want to beat them.

“We’ve got a homemade gym downstairs and just making sure we’ve been keeping up that stuff, and it’s nice to get outside on the field and do a good running session and then sitting on the couch you don’t feel as bad.”

When she does return to the court, Elle will continue her push for international selection although there could be competition in that as well.

Temu is eligible to play internationally for three nations: England – by way of birth, the Cook Islands through her father’s ethnicity, and, of course, the Silver Ferns. 

The 20-year-old said two in particular stand out to her.

“The Silver Ferns are the main priority for most of us but, it would be awesome to represent Cook Islands like my dad did in rugby league, I think it would be awesome,” she said.

“But Silver Ferns is definitely the goal. Watching them win the World Cup, watching them sing the national anthem, I’m like, ‘I want to be there, that’s so awesome’.”

Needless to say, she’ll face competition to capture that moment too.