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Centre of attention . . . Molly Hurst will be the "rover" for the two premier Waitaki Girls' High School teams.

Netball season is here again. Hayden Meikle clocks in with the eight premier club teams ahead of the opening round on Sunday.

VALLEY GOLD
Coach: Petra Aspros.
Last year: Co-champion.
The oil: The majority of last year’s team that shared the title is back, though Lisa Dyer has moved to Dunedin and Suzy Lind is playing for Valley Silver. Rihi Schultz is back, and Kate Macgregor comes up from Silver. Key players will again be defender Nicky Wallace and lofty shooter Kara Cox. Valley has set the standard in recent seasons, winning three consecutive titles, and is likely to challenge for glory again.

Experienced duo . . . Petra Aspros (right) and Kara Cox will again be key players for Valley Gold this season. PHOTOS: CAROL EDWARDS

WGHS LIGHTNING STRIKE
Coach: Rihi Schultz and Georgie Salter.
Last year: Co-champion.
The oil: The schoolgirls staged a wonderful comeback to draw the 2016 final – hopefully any repeat will go to extra time – and again look set to make a run at the title. Superstar shooter Taneisha Fifita is hard to stop, Caitlin Judd is a dynamo at centre, and new defenders India McLay and Maikale Fifita add plenty of energy.

VALLEY SILVER
Coach: Petra Aspros.
Last year: Fourth.
The oil: Emily Borst, Lisa Fenwick, Steph Lowen, Meme Rabitu and PJ Cleave are newcomers to the side. Cleave, who has been playing social netball but decided to make a step up this season, will bolster the shooting circle, while Fenwick should feature at the defence end. Plenty of good young players to help Silver challenge for a semifinal place again.

ST KEVIN’S A
Coach: Carmen Brenssell and Melissa Smith.
Last year: Fifth.
The oil: Could be a team on the rise. Won the netball section of the competitive southern Catholic schools tournament earlier this month. Brytnee Firman goes back to her more comfortable position of goal shoot, shoring up the attacking circle, and the talented Tivinia Misiloi runs the show from the back.

ATHLETIC
Coach: Karen Meatherall.
Last year: Sixth.
The oil: Tall shooter Jane Medlicott is a big loss but Monique Verdonk and Megan Green will add depth to the midcourt. Athies did not really fire last season but will target the top four this year with a balanced team.

WGHS WILDFIRE
Coach: Rihi Schultz and Georgie Salter.
Last year: Seventh.
The oil: Circle defenders Izzy Hurst and Nicole Lowen are key to Wildfire’s hopes of challenging for the top four. Hurst is a strong leader from the back, and Lowen is a dynamic presence who swoops on turnovers. Newcomers Lily Stock and Kaylah Rawson are ready to step up, and Molly Hurst will provide experience when she appears as the “rover”.

ST KEVIN’S B
Coaches: Carmen Brenssell and Melissa Smith.
Last year: Eighth.
The oil: A new-look team that is looking forward to the challenge of playing in the top grade. The key player will be Brylee More, the “rover” for the St Kevin’s teams, who will take on a leadership role on the court with her skills and ability to read the game.

MAHENO
Coach: Carmen Brenssell.
Last year: Top of 1.2 grade.
The oil: The country club returns to the top level of North Otago netball for the first time since the turn of the century after two promotions last season. The athletic combination of Kathryn Kawau and Anika McLennan on attack will be a big bonus for Maheno. Melissa Smith, a former Otago squad member who has returned to Oamaru, adds considerable experience and versatility.