Diggers Rest has pulled off a recruiting coup signing former Australian netballer Natasha Chokljat for this year’s Riddell District Netball League season.
Chokljat played 29 matches for Australia, in a long top level career in both Australia and New Zealand.
It was Chokljat’s friendship with Burras’ playing coach Amy Carroll which saw her commit to the club.
Carroll and Chokljat played together for a number of years at Melbourne Phoenix in the old Commonwealth Bank Trophy competition.
“She’s a good friend of mine,” Carroll said.
“On the off chance, I sent her a message to sound her out and she sounded really keen.
“She’s had a baby last year and I thought she might feel like doing something for herself.
“We managed to get her onboard.”
Carroll said while they weren’t putting pressure on Chokljat, the club was excited by what she could bring to the court.
“She’s a very exciting midcourt addition,” she said.
“To get someone with her strengths and experience around the middle of the court, you cannot buy that.”
It’s not just on the court, where the signing of Chokljat will benefit the club.
“She coached the ACU Sovereigns [Victorian Netball League side] for a year and will be a great help to me,” Carroll said.
“I will draw on her experiences.
“It’ll be an all round benefit for the club. It’s got everyone excited with a lot of people looking up to her when she played.
“Hopefully it’ll draw people to come and watch our games.”
Carroll said they would have a similar A-grade line up to last season when they finished sixth, getting knocked out in the first week of the finals.
After aiming to just make finals last season, Carroll said they had set the bar a little higher this year.
“We had the core of the team, we just needed one star player to help hold the team up.
“Hopefully we can get a step further.
“I really want our team to get up there and be pushing in finals, rather than just making them.
“The aim is to finish top three.”
Carroll said while the top side would be similar, their other three sides would be a lot stronger.
“We had a great turn out at trials,” she said.
“The B and C grade sides will be strengthened. Sarah [Carroll] is still deciding the teams as we’re reluctant to have anyone miss out.”
The Burras will kick off their season against two-time reigning premiers Riddell.