The Wellington Phoenix have signed New Zealand age group international Helena Errington and Australian defender Tiana Jaber to bolster their women’s A-League squad.
The pair join the third-placed Liberty A-League side for the rest of the 2023-24 season, with the Phoenix making a concerted bid to reach end-of-season finals for the first time in their three-season history.
Jaber (23) is a replacement for Marisa van der Meer, who suffered a season-ending knee injury this month, while Errington (18) has joined the Nix on a scholarship contract, and adds depth to Wellington’s midfield.
Main photo: Helena Errington … has excelled with the national U-19 women’s team. Photo credit: OFC / Kirk Corrie /
Head coach Paul Temple said:
“Tiana’s very athletic, strong and powerful and a good one-on-one defender,
“She can play at centre back and at fullback and gives us that balance back in the squad.
“It was really important that we brought someone in that has A-League experience. Tiana’s 23, which is a good age because she’s had a few years playing in the A-League, but she’s also still improving and progressing.
“She missed out on getting a contract at the start of the season with other clubs so she’ll be hungry to show what she can do to get back into the A-League.
“Helena’s a skilful attacking midfielder who has the capacity to score goals, dribble past opponents and create.
“She suits the style of play we are implementing here and having worked with her in the academy I know exactly what to expect from her and what she is capable of.
“We’re blessed with these young attacking midfielders in New Zealand at the moment, and Helena’s going to add real depth to the squad in what is such an important position.”
Tiana Jaber says it was a “complete shock” when her agent called to tell her about Wellington’s contract offer.
“I heard the Phoenix needed a player and was asked if I was willing to drop everything, make the move and go over and help the girls, and I just jumped at it.
“It’s an opportunity you can’t say no to. It’s a really, really exciting opportunity to join the Phoenix.”
Jaber made her A-League debut for Western Sydney Wanderers in the 2019-20 A-League and spent the next two seasons at Newcastle Jets before joining the Western United side that went all the way to the grand final earlier this year.
“Being a part of Western was amazing. It was something I’ll never forget, especially being part of that team with all those great players and going to the grand final.
“That is a highlight of my career. I learned a lot and it was just a great experience.
“Hopefully, I can help add to the winning mentality that Wellington definitely have at the moment.”
While versatility is one of her strengths, she wants to prove herself at centre back, where Jaber has played for Bankstown City in the New South Wales National Premier Leagues (NPL) first grade competition alongside Phoenix goalkeeper Brianna Edwards.
“I’ve been a centre back my whole life, but in the A-League I’ve been more of a fullback.
“I’m hoping to show everyone that I’m a genuine centre back because I’ve got strength and speed and I love playing with possession. I love controlling the game from the back.”
Tiana Jaber will join the Phoenix in Wellington when the squad returns home from Friday night’s match against Sydney FC.
Helena Errington has already started training with the Nix, having recently returned home from a stint with Sporting Lisbon.
Errington secured the move to Portugal after being named the most valuable player of the OFC U-19 Championship in Fiji in July, and she trained with Sporting’s first team while playing for their reserves.
“It was a super great experience on and off the field,” Errington said. “The football was amazing, the players are very technical and there was great coaching as well.”
Born and bred in Wellington, she played her junior football at Waterside Karori and spent time at the Olé academy before joining the Phoenix academy, where she was coached by Temple.
Errington believes her game suits the team’s ‘smallball’ style.
“I really like what he’s doing with the team, and I’m excited to start playing.
“I’m certainly a very technical player. I’m very composed on the ball, I have good vision to make through balls in behind, and I also like to dribble and take on players.”