BFNL netball powerhouse Gisborne has produced a massive recruiting coup with the announcement that Victorian Fury star Claudia Mawson will line up in red, white and blue in the 2022 season.
The 20-year-old goal attack, formerly from Echuca, joins the Bulldogs after a stellar Victorian Netball League season with Melbourne University Lightning, where she was a team-mate of Gisborne star and 2018 Betty Thompson medallist Maddy Stewart.
Mawson shapes as a crucial inclusion to a talent-laden Bulldogs line-up that has perennially finished in the league's top three throughout the last decade.
Bulldogs coach Tarryn Rymer said Mawson, who was named in the Fury squad for the first time this year, would add to the club's already strong depth.
"From our early conversations, she seems like she will be an absolutely perfect fit for us, both on the court and off the court," she said.
"Watching her and Maddy's VNL games online this season, she is a very dynamic goal attack, which is a position we were looking to fill coming into next year.
"She will be an absolute asset to us and we're very excited to have her at Gisborne.
"It's probably one of the most exciting signings we have had in the last 10 years or so.
"We haven't really had a goal attack signing in a while, we've had a lot of goal shooters.
"It's a good position to fill with such a quality player."
Both Bulldogs newcomer Mawson, who won Echuca's A-grade best and fairest as a 17-year-old in her last football/netball league season in 2019, and Stewart have re-signed with the Lightning for the 2022 VNL season.
Their existing on-court chemistry is sure to make for a smooth transition at Gardiner Reserve.
The Bulldogs expect to keep nearly all of their A-grade players from this season with the exception of young goal attack Tazma Morris, who has moved to Geelong to pursue work and other opportunities.
Rymer said Morris, who had the misfortune during the metropolitan lockdown to be able to travel to Gisborne from her home in Sunbury for work, but was not allowed to train or play with her Gisborne team-mates, would be missed by the club.
"She had a great season, but it was very stop-start for her," she said.
"I felt sorry for her because she would get on a roll, but living in a metro area, five minutes down the road at Sunbury, there were times she couldn't bet at training or join us for games (due to the Melbourne lockdown).
"She's moved to Geelong for work, but we hope one day she will be back at Gisborne."
The Bulldogs finished the 2021 home and away season in third spot with eight wins, two losses and a draw.
One of those losses was by a mere two-goals to top of the ladder Kangaroo Flat (10-0-1), after the two teams drew their earlier season clash at Gisborne in April.
While the Bulldogs were likely to have been missing three metropolitan-based players had the BFNL finals series went ahead, Rymer and her players were disappointed the season could not be completed.
"I was really happy with the playing group, they were hitting their straps at the right time and it would have been great to see exactly where we were at," she said.
"Even missing all three of our goalers, we still had plenty of depth in our other grades to help us get through.
"But it was definitely the right call with all the netball we'd missed and then asking girls to go back on a limited preparation and perform at that top level.
"It wasn't the finish we were hoping for, but it was definitely the right decision."
The first re-signing for 2022 to be publicly announced by the Bulldogs was that of champion dual Betty Thompson Medal-winning centre Tiana Newman.
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