Sport

Swans to dive in with options

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April 06, 2018

Former Echuca United star Sophie Atkinson will rejoin the Goulburn Valley League and play with Shepparton Swans this season.

Shepparton Swans will unveil their new recruits and returning faces at Princess Park tomorrow.

Mansfield makes the trek to Shepparton for its opening match of the season and has plenty to contend with.

With the Swans always a consistent side, an injection of three ace players gives it the fire power that can turn games.

Wellman Family medallist Julie Telford and star goaler Annie Cobbledick return to the Swans, while Echuca United premiership player Sophie Atkinson adds yet another tall option.

The trio, as well as coach Jana Bruinier, can all step into the goal ring, with Telford to shore up the defence and the playing coach to run through the midcourt.

The options are exciting for Bruinier to work with.

‘‘Jules has been awesome so far in pre-season, she’s been really committed and it’s great having someone so experienced coming into the fold and she’s a Swannies legend, so it’s great to get some culture around the younger group of girls,’’ she said

‘‘It’s great having someone who’s such an intelligent netballer coming in.

‘‘Soph’s obviously played at United in the GV as well (as the Murray league) and is a great asset for us in goal shooter and having her experience is great.

‘‘Annie Cobbledick is rejoining us and has been a Swan and her family has been Swans forever, so again it’s great having those people coming in and adding that bit extra.’’

Bruinier convinced Nat Simpson to forego retirement for another year and she is returning with plenty left to give in the twilight of her illustrious career.

While the Swans are looking to progress deep into finals, the Eagles are continuing to try and grow from last year.

Entering the second season under Emily Hutchins, the coach is anticipating her side can pick up where it left off last year after the game plan clicked late in the season.

‘‘That’s our main focus to just roll straight into it from where we left off and get started once we get into the season and find our feet,’’ she said.

Hutchins remains a while away from returning from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, but has complete faith in captain Jess Walker and her ability to lead the side on court.

With players headed to university and others based away from Mansfield, the club ran trainings in Melbourne during summer to ensure the best preparation.

While Hutchins was prepared for some early nerves from her young squad, she was confident it could be competitive against the Swans.

‘‘We’ve got some height in our defensive end and they’ll give us strength ... our main thing is that we want to be converting our centres and hopefully stay with them as long as possible,’’ she said.

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