Silver Ferns defender Erena Mikaere and midcourter Kimiora Poi have made their international debut in the Quad Series. It was an experience to remember for both Mikaere and Poi, who were presented their playing uniforms in a special team pōhiri ceremony.
"There was the mini-pōhiri and the gifting of the dresses- that made me ready for that moment," says Mikaere, “I roomed with Casey [Kopua] her daughter [Maia] sung us the national anthem a few times, I was like 'I’m ready for this'.”
“It was special and Erena [Mikaere] put us in the deep end to sing back to them, so we did our duet," says Poi, "I was presented my dress by Noeline [Taurua] and Laura [Langman] said a few words.”
Poi got onto the court for her debut with one minute left in the first half against England after being placed at centre for Sam Sinclair,
“Indescribable, I wasn’t really expecting much game time but when I got the opportunity I did take it. I wasn’t really nervous, I was more excited”
The 20-year-old's parents traveled to Liverpool to witness their daughter's debut.
This isn't the first time. Poi's parents witnessed their daughter play her first match as a member of the New Zealand Under 20s team that won the age-group world champs in Botswana last year as well as the Fast5 Netball World Series in Australia in late October.
“Mum had a little tear in her eye, they were so proud,” says Poi.
Mikaere says she remained calm when she got her first showing in the black dress late in the third quarter, replacing Watson at goal keep in their opening match against England at Echo Arena in Liverpool.
“Debs [Debbie Fuller] just said get out there and do some damage,” says Mikaere.
After four years learning her craft in the Australian League alongside the likes of Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett and England's Geva Mentor, Mikaere made the decision to return home, signing with the Northern Mystics last year.
The 30-year-old towering dynamic player brings a winning edge to the Silver Ferns fold after claiming back-to-back Super Netball Championships with Sunshine Coast Lightning in 2017 and 2018 with current Lighting and Silver Ferns head coach Noeline Taurua.
Both players return to full training with their respective ANZ Premiership franchises next week. Mikaere will spend time in Rotorua with family before returning to Auckland with the Mystics, while Poi will enjoy the time-off attending the popular One Love festival in Tauranga this weekend before she joins the Mainland Tactix.
The Silver Ferns finished third in the Quad Series and look to improve on their 62-60 extra-time thriller against South Africa in London on Monday.