Central Coast Heart has turned to the north for its recruitment in the 2018 season, filling both the opens roster and under 20s squad with Hunter netball talents.

Four Newcastle women bolster the ranks of the team that finished fifth last year, including returning player of the year Madeleine Taylor, who will likely slot back into the starting shooter role for the upcoming campaign.

Taylor is joined by Sophie Buckley, Natarlia Bridges and Tarsha Hawley in the top squad, while Hannah Cullen, Eliza Hand, Nikita Jackson and Danielle Taylor are Newcastle’s representatives in the under 20s development team.

Central Coast finished their 2017 campaign with a 7 win, 7 loss record, with three of the matches being decided by just a single goal, and head coach Amber Cross believes recruitment for the new season will go a a long way to solving some of those problems.

“We had a lot of problems closing out games last season, and so it saw us lose some really close matches in the end,” Cross explained. “The ten [players] that we have for this year are all really strong players and so having options going in will be really positive.”

As well as the introduction of defensive veteran Natarlia Bridges and “court general” Sophie Buckley, Cross pointed to the recruitment of former Central Coast under 20s talent Tarsha Hawley from UTS Sparks as “fantastic”.

“The team already has Maddie Taylor down the end for us, and we know that she links up well with the middle of the court and provides us with that target,” Cross said. “Hawley gives us another option of attack, and gives us that ‘moving’ two at the top to change up the game.”

“We will see in the first match, but I’m confident with how the team looks.”

Heart will face their first challenge in the form of last year’s grand final runners-up, UTS Sparks, with whom the Central Coast outfit have developed a “grudge rivalry”.

“Outside of beating them in the preseason a few weeks ago, we haven’t beaten UTS in a regular match,” Cross said. “Having them first up will be a good show of how we have shaped up in the off-season.”

The first round of the season will begin on Wednesday, May 30, with Central Coast playing their opening match at 8.40pm.

The under 20 squad will play against Sparks’ under 20s as the opener at 7pm.

First published as: Hunter stars filling Heart squad to the brim