Sunshine Coast Lightning has announced it will farewell player Erena Mikaere this week, with the goal defender having accepted a contract with New Zealand netball team Northern Mystics.
Mikaere said the move would place her closer to her eight-year-old daughter Bileigh, who currently resides with her grandparents in New Zealand.
“I’m excited to head back to my baby; that’s my biggest reason for going home,” Mikaere said.
“My family has been so supportive of my career in Australia and I’m looking forward to returning home to spend more time with them.
“While I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time at Lightning and have made some life-long friendships along the way, I’m excited to be starting a new chapter in my life.
“I love this club, I love the people and I love the coast. It’s been the hardest decision to make but I’ll always have a home here.
“My heart is here; it’s just split in two now because my heart is also running around in New Zealand.”
Mikaere said she was looking forward to getting back on home soil and seeing what she could achieve with Northern Mystics.
“I never could have dreamed Lightning would have won back-to-back premierships in its first two years so I’m excited to see how far Mystics can go in the ANZ Premiership in 2019.
“Lightning’s head coach, Noeline Taurua, has been such a big part of my life both on and off the netball court and it will be so hard to leave such an amazing team.”
Taurua said she was grateful to Mikaere for what she had contributed to Sunshine Coast Lightning and had no doubt she would bring her signature smile and skill to the ANZ Premiership.
“Erena has developed significantly as a player over the past two years and has been an asset to our team.
“We will miss her fun-loving personality and presence at Lightning.
“Northern Mystics are lucky to have her and I’m sure she will do them proud in 2019.”
Earlier this week, Lightning revealed foundation players Steph Wood, Laura Scherian, Maddy McAuliffe, Karla Pretorius and Cara Koenen had all re-signed for the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball season.
It is expected the remainder of the 10-strong squad will be announced over the coming week.
To find out more about Sunshine Coast Lightning, please visit www.sunshinecoastlightning.com.au.