STAR defender Jo Weston says she is naturally thrilled to have Bendigo's Caitlin Thwaites back in the fold at Melbourne Vixens.
High-profile recruit Thwaites, who has spent the past two seasons with the Vixens' crosstown rival Collingwood, has rejoined the club she won an ANZ Championship with in 2009, and no one could be happier than her Australian Diamonds team-mate Weston.
The pair is long-time friends and often rooms together when on tour with the national team.
As the Vixens prepare to host the Magpies, Queensland Firebirds and West Coast Fever in Bendigo this weekend, Weston told of her excitement at having the star shooter back at the club.
"She'll be the poster child for us while we are up there in Bendigo," she said.
"It's great to have her back in the Vixens camp. She has come through the Netball Victoria pathways and played for the Vixens a few years ago.
"She is someone I am really close to in the Australian team, so personally it's great to be able to hangout with her and play with her a bit more regularly.
"It's been great having her back in the fold.
"She's obviously an incredible player, but outside that she's just such a phenomenal person - almost completely altruistic and has a great perspective on things."
The Vixens will start the season aiming to rebound from a finals-less campaign in 2018, after finishing fifth behind premiers Sunshine Coast Lightning, Fever, Giants Netball and Queensland Firebirds.
It followed a minor premiership and third-place finish in 2017.
Weston, the Vixens' leader in defence, believes their pre-season program has left the players enthusiastic and raring to go for the season.
"It has been really good so far; we had a great hit-out up at the #TeamGirlsCup in Brisbane and have been doing a lot of hard work back home in Melbourne both on and off the court," she said.
"Obviously we had a bit of disappointment with an injury to one of younger players Tayla Honey (ruptured Achilles) about a month ago, but fortunately we have such depth of Victorian talent that we have had Lara Dunkley step up to the plate seamlessly.
"I feel we have a great combination of that experience and youth and that depth of connection with most of the group having played together for a few years now.
"I personally think that will hold us in good stead, but the competition is pretty stiff among our competitors, so it's about being a consistent performer all season long."
The Vixens will be no strangers to their opponents this weekend, after playing both the Magpies and Firebirds at the #TeamGirlsCup, albeit in shortened games.
The Bendigo tournament will not be the end of the club's pre-season appointments, with the Vixens off to Perth in a fortnight's time for a pair of matches against the Fever in Perth and Mandurah.
The Vixens have retained Kate Moloney, Liz Watson and Tegan Philip as their leadership group for a third-consecutive season.
https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/5937066/vixens-back-leaders-for-super-netball/?cs=10197Vixens back leaders for Super Netball
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