KANGAROO Flat netball coach Jayden Cowling says he could barely believe his luck when the club landed the signatures of BFNL inter-league stars Ashley and Abbey Ryan and former Sandhurst three-time premiership defender Carly Van Den Heuvel.
The young but highly-experienced A-grade trio adds another dimension to a Roos line-up already bristling with talent and which finished runners-up to Sandhurst in the last season played in 2019.
Major recruiting coup for Roos
Cowling, who is in his fourth season as coach (counting the cancelled 2020 season), said the fresh injection of talent had created plenty of buzz at Dower Park.
"We're very excited, it's a bit of a new era at Kangaroo Flat. We've got new courts, we've got a new (netball) operations manager and plenty of new girls at the club," he said.
"It's a brand new feel and we're super-excited to hopefully return to the court this year.
"With our fresh faces, there's certainly a good buzz about the place."
The Roos were already handily placed after managing to retain all but defender Kate Burton, who missed the grand final through injury, from their 2019 line-up, with some doubts hanging over goal attack Julia Clark due to work commitments.
Clark had a breakout season in 2019, finishing fifth in the league's Betty Thompson Medal count with 17 votes.
The addition of reigning league best and fairest Ashley Ryan, from Eaglehawk, adds to an already accomplished midcourt comprising 2019 captain and two-time premiership star Chelsea Sartori, Milly Wicks and rising star Ella Wicks.
With two of the league's elite centres in Ryan and Sartori now wearing green, black and white, Cowling said his plan was to rotate all of his midcourters through the centre, wing defence and wing attack positions.
Van Den Heuvel, who will revert to her more favoured position deep in defence, after spending much of her time in the Dragons' 2019 premiership year at wing defence, will provide strong cover for the Roos, especially early in the season when they will be without their six-time A-grade premiership winner Alicia McGlashan due to pregnancy.
Just as pleasing for Cowling than the signing of their big three, the Roos have bolstered their overall A-squad depth with the signings of Bronte Deary, Laura McDonald and Ash O'Shea.
Deary returns to Dower Park following a pair of Heathcote District league A-grade flags with White Hills in 2018-19, McDonald is a former Ballarat league inter-league player with VNL experience, while youngster O'Shea makes the move across from Golden Square after playing in the 17-and-under grand final in 2019.
Cowling said all six signings had significantly bolstered the Roos' depth.
"Even at tryouts, the standard on court was second to none considering the girls hadn't played together or at all for so long," he said.
"Ash, Abbey and Carly coming have really strengthened our A-squad and I feel anyone in that A-squad could fill in for one another.
"We're hoping this is the year, that's our goal, to do well, but equally, getting the girls back to enjoying their netball is a priority as well.
"I think the group we have will have plenty of fun off the court too."
The Roos have also re-signed goal shooter Annie Spear and defender Ingrid Hopkins from their 2019 grand final team.
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