A NEW season and a new league means new opportunities for Bendigo's Super Netball star Chloe Watson.
The 22-year-old is readying for her third season with Melbourne Vixens, one that comes with the promise of new roles and increased playing time, starting Saturday night against new glamour side Collingwood.
As starts to the season go, they don't come any tougher than a first-up clash against the Magpies, who have been heavily touted as title favourites.
But Watson wouldn't have it any other way as she seeks to make her mark in the new national competition.
"Honestly, I don't think there's a better way to start - people are already picking Collingwood as the favourites for the year and we haven't even played a game yet," she said.
"Playing our crosstown team and starting off with that Melbourne Derby, we're excited and we're prepared.
"We know what we're facing, they're going to be a tough team but so are we, and that's why we have a pre-season and do the hard yards."
The Vixens approach a new era in Australian netball with a new leader.
Midcourter Kate Moloney, a premiership star with the Vixens in 2014, takes over the captaincy from Madi Robinson, who has bolted to Collingwood.
Goal attack Tegan Philip and Diamonds’ midcourter Liz Watson will be her deputies.
Watson said Maloney was the perfect choice to lead the club into an exciting new phase in netball.
"I'm so proud to be led by her, Kate is the absolute epitome of what the Vixens are and what we want to be," she said.
"When she's playing she's all heart and leads from the front.
"I know it's a huge role for her this year, but there is absolutely no doubt she can step up and fil that position.
"It's been a long time coming for her (and) she's so natural at it."
Watson, who represented Sandhurst in the BFNL netball competition, views this season as a chance to firmly establish herself in the starting seven.
"All of a sudden I feel like I am one of the more experienced ones. This is my third season with Jo Weston and Emily Mannix, a couple of girls my age who I have played alongside for a few years," she said.
"For me, I've always had someone like Bianca Chatfield of Geva Mentor back there in defence, but now it's about stepping out and making a role my own."
The battle at Hisense Arena will pit the Vixens defender against Collingwood’s Bendigo-born star Caitlin Thwaites, one of five current Diamonds in the Magpies’ team.
Watson said Thwaites had enjoyed a productive off-season playing for the Diamonds and was an obvious key to the outcome of the round one encounter.
"I get along quite well with Caitlin, the same with a few of the other (Collingwood) girls. Alice Teague-Neeld is an old teammate," Watson said.
"There's quite a few familiar faces, which is not so rare when you've been around a few years, you know a lot of faces.
"We'll go out and play a hard 60 minutes or more and then shake hands and have a catch up after the game, but hopefully the Vixens will have come out on top."