Duo's return boosts Eagles flag quest

NORTH Warrnambool Eagles’ quest for back-to-back Hampden league A grade flags has received a double boost.

Maddison Smedts and Indi Morrison have rejoined the Eagles in a major coup for the Bushfield-based club.

Smedts’ return follows a two-year stint at Cobden, including one season as coach, while Morrison spent 2013 at Warrnambool.

Smedts, 21, said she always wanted to return to her home club where her mother Jackie is a long-time junior coach.

“The first thing Marie Millard said to me was ‘welcome home’ and that was a nice feeling,” Smedts said.

Smedts said she wrestled with the decision to leave the Bombers.

Her partner Aidan Cole left Cobden at the end of the season and will coach Warrnambool and District league club Nirranda in 2014.

“I didn’t want to go to district league yet so it was out of North and Cobden,” she said.

Smedts said she enjoyed her time at Cobden and had built strong friendships.

“I am already planning what to do after the game against Cobden in round four,” she said.

“My first game against North with Cobden was the most nerve-racking ever and I think it will be reversed this time.”

Premiership coach Sharon Kenna will lead North Warrnambool Eagles again next season. Smedts said she had signed with the Eagles in a playing capacity only and was excited to play under Kenna for the first time.

“I loved coaching Cobden, loved the two years I was there as an assistant coach and coach,” she said.

“I think I grew a lot as a player doing that but I am looking forward to going to North.

“I am really looking forward to playing with the young girls and seeing the up-and-coming talent at North Warrnambool.

“I think it’s very exciting.”

The centre-cum-goal defence said pressure for A grade spots at the Eagles was a positive for the entire club.

“We definitely have some strong players like the Blackburn girls and Sophie Barr and juniors coming through like Grace Chow,” Smedts said.

“We’ll all be busting for a spot so it’s going to be tough.

“Sophie and I have played netball together since we were 13 so we can chop and change positions.

“We play very well together and know each other’s moves. It made it hard playing against her this year.”

The Eagles collected their first A grade flag in September, shocking favourite Koroit in the decider.

“They were definitely a surprise this year but I think 2013 was the most level playing field, competitive season I have ever played in,” Smedts said.

“Next year I don’t think there will be greater expectation on us as a team but I hope the season next year is as competitive as it was this year.”

Morrison, 19, said she would have to prove herself at pre-season training to regain her spot in the Eagles’ A grade line-up.

She said she had strong ties to the Eagles.

“I have been there since my juniors and was always going to go back. I just moved away to play with my friends for a year,” Morrison said.

Kenna said the Eagles were thrilled to have the pair back and cited Smedts’ coaching experience as a major coup.

justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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