NETBALL powerhouse Nirranda is confident it has the depth to cover the loss of two defensive pillars as it pursues grand final redemption.
Blues coach Steph Townsend will experiment with new combinations as she vies to cover the absence of departing defenders Katie Ryan and Lisa Anders.
Townsend has promoted reigning A reserve best and fairest Hayley Pouw and could also use Koroit recruit Chelsea Adams in a defensive role alongside Cloe Marr.
The fifth-year mentor said the new-look group presented "new challenges".
We'll freshen up our gameplay and it'll be quite a challenge for me to see what we can do and how early we can hit our straps.Steph Townsend
"We'll look at utilising Hayley. She had some individual success last season, which I think she deserved, so it'll be good to see how she goes in the higher grade," Townsend said.
"Obviously we have Cloe still around. I'm actually just looking forward to seeing the combinations we can put through that defensive circle.
"I think we'll hold up all right in that defensive end, we'll just have new combinations and faces.
"We'll freshen up our gameplay and it'll be quite a challenge for me to see what we can do and how early we can hit our straps."
Nirranda suffered a heartbreaking one-goal loss to Merrivale in last year's Warrnambool and District league decider.
Townsend said motivation was flowing.
"For me, the hunger never left," she said.
"Especially after the disappointment of last season. Obviously we were up there all season and just couldn't get the job done when we needed to.
"In saying that, the hunger is there for all the girls that were there last year and with Jo coming back, she'll be a big help for me.
"Where we are as club is fantastic but I think that hunger, right through the court, is certainly still there."
Townsend, who has previously ordered players back to pre-season prior to Christmas, has this season opted for extended break.
"Saturday was actually our first training with our first side. It'll be nice to have a few sessions and hit-outs," Townsend said.
"Some of the girls hadn't actually met each other. It'll be good for someone like Chelsea to get a gauge of where we're at.
"I think we're a tight little side but she is fitting in already. She's an absolute champion.
"It's nice, it's refreshing so hopefully we'll hone in on skills sessions rather than the prolonged pre-season of fitness."
The Blues will face Allansford in round one action at Nirranda Recreation Reserve.
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