Wagga Blaze coach Peter O’Leary has put rival Waratah League clubs on notice after branding his initial training squad as “even better” than last year’s championship side.
The division one premiers have been actively recruiting since their 86-76 grand final victory over Coffs Harbour back in August and O’Leary can’t wait to get his revamped training squad on the court.
“We called for expressions of interest over the off-season and we actually got a fair few positive responses, so there’s a good mix of people wanting to be involved,” O’Leary said.
“Personally, I think we’ll be a strong squad than last year and it’s shaping up to be a pretty interesting season.
“We’ll hopefully be getting started with our initial squad training this weekend or the weekend after.”
Eight of last year’s premiership squad have been retained and O’Leary is expected to announce a further two additions in January.
The wily director of coaching is keeping those cards close to his chest but expects them to further complement the existing firepower on deck.
“We’ve been chatting with a few players from around the area and there’s some girls from Cootamundra and Leeton who are interested in having a run with us.”
“There’s another two girls who will come into the side, one of whom is a recognised NSW player, so we’re really excited about them but there’s still some organising to go.
“We expect we’ll see them in January and then we’ll also have Khiani (Clark) and Shakera (Barnes) coming back from the States, so it’s going to be a strong side and, I think, even better than last year.”
With the expectation of a premiership defence hanging over them, the Blaze will be hoping to improve on their early season form and push for a historic third premiership.
The side dropped their first two fixtures and three of their opening five rounds last season before storming home with five wins from their last seven games.
It still wasn’t easy in the finals series with the Blaze coming from behind against Maitland in the semi final before pulling off an upset for the ages in the decider.
With Clark and Barnes dominating the Blaze scoresheet, O’Leary will also be chasing some further scoring options, particularly from outside the three-point arc.
A final squad will be named prior to the 2019 season.