contracting period, signings, CPA, all players out of contract, NSW Swifts, Kelea Iongi, Central Pulse, Rahni Samason, Geva Mentor, player movement

Super Netball’s third player exit has been confirmed with up and coming Swift Kelea Iongi heading to New Zealand to play for the Central Pulse.

The talented defender’s deflection to the ANZ Premiership was announced on Monday.

She becomes the second young talent to join the New Zealand competition for next year, following Rahni Samason’s exit from the Melbourne Vixens for the Robinhood Stars.

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“I’m super keen to be able to join Pulse for the 2024 season and to be in a whole new environment,’’ Iongi said.

“This is an important step in my career. I’m still young and keen to learn different skills and ways to play the game of netball. My main aim is to become a better athlete and to keep learning.

“I’m very excited to be able to work with a new playing group and coaching staff in a different country.

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“I will definitely miss my family. This is my first time moving out of home and moving to another country is massive but my family are the most supportive people and I’m so blessed to have them on this journey with me.”

Iongi, the niece of Australian netball great Mo’onia Gerrard, is an under 21 and under 19s Australian representative who spent three years as a training partner at the Giants before crossing to the Swifts for the 2023 season.

And it’s those links that made Pulse Netball Central Director of High Performance Wai Taumaunu take notice of the 23-year-old.

“Kelea is well known for her physical prowess and her great anticipation. She sought advice from Kristiana (Manu’a) when considering a move to Wellington, who told her in no uncertain terms to grab the opportunity. That advice was reinforced by her aunt Mo’onia Gerrard and we look forward to welcoming her at the Pulse,” she said.

It was at the Swifts Iongi made her Super Netball debut as a replacement player for the injured Teigan O’Shannassy.

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The 183cm defender made four appearances for the Swifts before making the call to further her playing career in New Zealand.

It comes as Super Netball remains in a contract stand off with clubs unable to sign any players due to a lack of CPA in place.

That cannot be agreed to until an eighth licence is confirmed, following the exit of the Collingwood Magpies from the competition in a messy fall out.

Iongi will take the place of Manu’a on the Pulse list, with the defender expected to return to Australia, and learn from the likes of new teammate and Silver Ferns star goal keeper Kelly Jury.

Iongi’s Super Netball departure comes only days after Collingwood Magpies co-captain Geva Mentor announced her decision to return home to the UK to play in England’s Netball Super League.

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Iongi, who has been named to represent Tonga in the upcoming Netball World Cup later this month, alongside her aunt Gerrard.

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