Canberra GIANTS netball star Ngawai Eyles is ready for anything

Molly McLaughlin

Playing with the Canberra GIANTS, directing netball at Radford College and adjusting to her new life in Canberra is all in a day’s work for netball powerhouse Ngawai Eyles. 

Ngawai developed a love for the sport early on, when she was growing up in the small city of Hamilton, New Zealand. 

“My older sister played netball and I used to go and watch her every weekend. I think you had to be eight years old to play in the proper games, so I spent ages watching her and wanting to play before I was old enough myself.” 

When she was 19, Ngawai got her big break, joining the local Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic team as a training partner in 2012, before becoming a replacement player and then working her way up to a permanent team member with multiple NZ-based teams. This year, she made the move across the ditch to join the Canberra GIANTS (and her long-term partner Brumbies flyhallf Wharenui Hawera). 

“Canberra’s awesome, the people are so lovely and I’ve made some really good friends, so I’m really enjoying it.” 

The biggest difference she has noticed is Australian netballers penchant for one-handed shoulder passes and one-on-one defence. When it comes to more dramatic changes, like the hectic travel schedule, Ngawai has no complaints. 

“I actually enjoy going away every weekend to play and getting to see more of Australia. When we have to drive it gets a bit tiring, but we are all willing to take turns at that so it’s working out quite well. There’s no complaining from any of the girls yet.” 

As well as training twice a day most days and playing two games every weekend, Ngawai works part-time as the technical director of netball at Radford College. But the balance is working for her. 

“The training has been really great, it’s awesome when we get together as a whole squad. It’s really intense but really good. We’ve got a really competitive mid-court, its fast, everyone is gunning to get as much time as possible. I’m loving it.” 

After a hotly-contested loss against the NSW Waratahs, the Canberra GIANTS are fighting to work their way back to the top of the league. 

“I’ve still got full confidence that we can take this competition out. We’ve all gone back to the drawing board after the losses, and worked on as individuals what we can do better, so hopefully we’ll bring that to the table this weekend.” 

She has also embraced her role as co-captain of the GIANTS, bringing the same positivity and relentless optimism both on and off the court.  

“The girls are gems and it’s all positive so far. Being one of the oldest, it has been quite an easy role to slot into for me, just trying to stay positive and lead by example. I think it’s going really well. I try to be really supportive, if anyone needs to talk about anything outside of netball I’ve told the girls that I’m always there.” 

Watch the Canberra GIANTS take on the Tasmanian Magpies in Round 6 of the Australian Netball League on the 15th and 16th of June. Book your ticket here.

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Molly McLaughlin

Molly McLaughlin was less than thrilled to move to Canberra a couple of years ago to study Arts and Economics at ANU, but she can confirm the city has grown on her since then. Along with writing for HerCanberra, she spends her time reading, eating noodles and planning her next adventure. More about the Author

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