Hunter Netball are set to begin their 2019 campaign in the Metro League this Thursday. Picture: Isaac McIntyre

Hunter Netball are just days away from their first match of the 2019 Metro League season, when they will face defending champions Randwick at Sydney Olympic Park.

There’s a simple objective for the team that is backed by the Hunter Academy of Sport – put Newcastle back on the map when it comes to state netball.

Meet that squad that’s going to be representing the Hunter in the Sydney-based state league, and carrying the torch of Newcastle netball forward in the NSW Netball competitive system:

Hunter Netball 2019 First Division Squad

Hunter Netball has also earned a spot in the Metro League fourth division. Tayla Winter, Fallan Porter, Abbie Leyshon, Lexy Holz, Emrah Manning, Leah Dove, Jemma Lucas, Summah Johnson, Kyra Powell-Caffyn, Layla Varley, and Shelly Hill have been named in the second Hunter squad.

Angela Samuels and Sallie Patridge will co-coach the team, while Jodi Cassar has been named as team manager.

“Excitement is very high surrounding the launch of these new teams,” Hunter Academy of Sport chief executive Brett O’Farrell said ahead of the new Sydney season.

“We believe this will continue the pathway for the region’s elite athletes and will provide a great environment for talented netballers to apply their trade with much less travel and time commitments.

“We see the team as a full representation of the region’s netball associations and many benefits will flow back to their members through high performance player and coach education sessions.”

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Natarlia Bridges has taken the helm of the Hunter’s premier netball squad, and has confirmed her values include forging a development pathway for young Novocastrian stars. Picture: Isaac McIntyre

While Hunter faces Randwick in the opening round, there’s a number of other mouthwatering clashes on the menu for the Metro League.

With the first division expanding back to 10 teams this season, both Manly-Warringah and Inner Western Suburbs have been promoted. They face Eastwood Ryde and Hills District respectively in the opening week. Meanwhile, Baulkham Hills Shire faces St George, and Illawarra will play Northern Suburbs.

Hunter Netball’s opening round in the top grade begins at 8.30pm on Thursday, April 11.

Keep updated on the team’s campaign in the Metro League here on The Hunter Women’s Chronicle, or follow the team’s Facebook page:

Predicted Round 1 line-up: Claire Kowald (GS), Brytne Bunnet (GA), Abbey Allomes (WA), Zoe Peden (C), Megan Aspinall (WD), Emma Rumbel (GD), Annie Neenan (GK); Annelise Iping, Mackenzie Stuart bench.

Note — Brytne Bunnet and Annelise Iping were not present for photos.