RETURNING Warrnambool Mermaid Brooke Rudezky is ready for a season on dry land.
The four-time championship player has committed to the 2020 Big V season after eight years away in the Australian Navy.
"I am active reserve (at the moment). I've taken the next 12 months off to decide what I want to do with my life, whether I go back or stay around here," she told The Standard at Mermaids' training on Thursday night.
Rudezky, 30, played in the Mermaids' three-peat from 2005-07 and again in another title in her most recent season with the club.
Since then she's been based in Melbourne, Sydney, Darwin and Perth in her role with the navy.
Her work included deployments - some of were four-month stints at sea with port stops on small islands.
"I was a communications specialist, so it was a broad range of stuff," Rudezky said.
"I was mainly on the bigger ships, humanitarian ships, mostly around the South Pacific, all of the islands.
"I did a bit of time on war ships but didn't really go many places."
Rudezky suspects she'll rejoin the navy full-time at the end of her leave.
She was first enticed into the armed forces at 22 "just to get away for a bit".
"I have always loved the ocean and had grandparents in the army and another grandparent in the air force, so I wanted to follow in their footsteps," she said.
The Warrnambool-raised basketballer returned to the south-west in December and decided to rejoin the Mermaids. She said the town had changed during her time away.
"We had training at Emmanuel (College) and I went to the junior campus, the old court, and was like 'ah, no one's here, maybe it's at the other campus'," Rudezky said. "And then I found out there's a whole new court that's been built."
Rudezky expects to play either as either a centre or power forward for the Lee Primmer-coached Mermaids when the season starts on March 15.
"I haven't played basketball in eight years, I've been playing footy so it's a whole different skill-set but I am starting to get my rhythm again," she said.
"We've got some bigger young girls that means I hopefully won't have to play as a big centre and (can play) more of a four role."
She is also adjusting to a new-look team.
"I know Amy (Wormald), Jae (Leddin) and Louise (Brown) but there was one training session and none of those girls were there and Lee goes 'put your hand up if you know Brooke' and none of them put their hand up," Rudezky said.
"We've got a really good bunch of young girls coming up. They've really surprised me."
The Mermaids have returned to division one after winning the title in 2018.
They spent last season in championship grade where they endured a win-less campaign. Rudezky has seen enough at training to believe Warrnambool will be a force again.
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