A HAMPDEN league finals hopeful is backing versatility to be its major weapon in 2023.
New North Warrnambool Eagles coach Maddison Vardy said the team was confident it would keep opponents guessing from the opening pass in round one.
The Eagles, who have lost Jordyn Murphy and Rachael Batten to retirement, believe a trio of emerging players - Emily Saffin, Nikiah Thomas and Millie Shiells - will elevate their games.
"Match-ups for us this year could potentially change weekly," Vardy said.
"We have five goalers who could also play in the middle, we've got defenders who can also play in the middle.
"We're not that big this year, losing Jordy and Rach, so we're just going to go for that speed and versatility."
Murphy called time on her career last season while regular goal shooter Batten is also stepping aside.
"Rach has retired. She carried a pretty bad foot injury through the whole season last year so she's just keen to give her whole body a bit of a rest," she said.
"It's a big loss for us but she'll still be around the club in some capacity."
Saffin, Thomas and Shiells are expected to earn more court time.
Vardy said Saffin, who is still at school, was adaptable which sometimes made it difficult for her to cement a spot.
"She can play anywhere. She's a natural goalie but being behind the likes of Vic Grundy, Tahni Porter and Skye (Billings) means it's been hard for Em to break into the goal end," she said.
"That means this year will be a different style of game, maybe in the midcourt or the defensive end.
"She's just such an exciting player to watch coming through because she is so versatile and eager to learn."
Thomas will play a permanent wing attack role.
"The last few weeks at training she's been playing in wing attack and doing really, really well," Vardy said.
"This year we're probably going to move Tahni Porter more into the centre court which will push me down the defensive end."
Recruit Maisie Barlow is "a natural leader" and has impressed Vardy with her wealth of netball knowledge too.
"She gives everyone that confidence," she said.
The Eagles have put a focus on strength and conditioning and are midway through a six-week boxing program led by Neil O'Malley and Koroit footballer Ben Dobson.
Vardy, who confirmed Billings would be playing at North in 2023 amid speculation of her playing future, said the sessions had proven worthwhile.
"It's been so good for us, fitness-wise and (providing) upper body strength for the girls," she said.
"We're three weeks in and everyone seems to be feeling fitter and stronger."
The team's younger cohort has set the tone with its boxing intensity.
"Emily is a young basketballer and she just looks so strong and powerful and the two Porter girls - Tahni and Layne - (have gone well)," she said.
"A few of the younger girls have surprised me at boxing. It is just a totally different strength and they just rock up and they're punching hard and giving Ben Dobson a run for his money."
Vardy is taking part in the sessions after making solid progress following a shoulder injury.
She managed to avoid surgery in the end.
"I injured my AC joint in the last five minutes of the last quarter of the last game, " she said.
"I took the conservative rehab approach and let it heal by itself.
"I haven't done any court stuff but so far it hasn't given me any issues whatsoever.
"Boxing has been fine and I seem to be throwing the ball fine. I am all good to go."
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