Long-time Melton Centrals coach Randy Pereira reckons he has every reason to be excited about the new Riddell District Netball League season.

Pereira says his side is looking good for the coming campaign.

“We have five new players and on paper the side is better than last year’s team,” he said.

“They’re yet to play together, but they’ve gelled well at training. We should also have a strong B-grade and under-19s team.”

He said that aside from veterans such as Bec Morabito and Jess May, the playing group had a good youth feel about it.

Centrals, who were knocked out in the first week of finals last season, have lost Natasha Maea, Danica Emery, Melissa Laird, Jess Watton and Tran Troung.

But a record number of players tried out for the four sides.

A bit of luck went Centrals way in finding replacements – former Sunbury Lions pair Rachel Dovaston and Sally Portbury have made the move.

Pereira said Dovaston had improved out of sight since he saw her play a few years ago and would add variety to the defence. Portbury would fill the wing attack position left vacant by the retirement of Troung. Centrals have also picked up Rita White-Kay, who will give them a third shooter.

“They [Sally and Rachel] called us up, saying they were looking for a club and decided to join us before trials,” Pereira said.

“Both have played in the Victorian Netball League. Jade Fisher comes from Altona and Caitlin Duncan is a defender who can play in the mid-court.

“We needed another shooter and Rita and her sister, Hannah White, turned up to try-outs. Hannah will play B grade, but could easily play A grade.”

Pereira said one of the most pleasing things about the club’s pre-season had been the number of girls they had for the under-19 team.

At one stage last season, the existence of an under-19 team was looking a shaky proposition.

“We’ve got four girls who are 15 so it is a young side,” Pereira said. “It’s exciting for the future.”

He said the club had lost a few C-grade players, so some under-19 players would be given chances to step up.