Waratah Championship League: Three-time Olympian Suzy Batkovic trains with Newcastle Hunters women's squad for first time | photos

Hunters coach Mark Gledson knows the homecoming of three-time Olympian Suzy Batkovic could help Newcastle’s women’s team defend their Waratah Championship League title this season but has issued a challenge for the rest of the squad.

Batkovic, fresh from signing a contract extension with the Townsville Fire for 2018, arrived in the region on Thursday afternoon and headed straight to training to meet her new teammates.

It comes ahead of the 36-year-old’s highly-anticipated senior debut for the Hunters at Newcastle Basketball Stadium this weekend but coach Gledson said his group would still need to lift despite what the record five-time WNBL MVP adds to the roster.     

“It’s good to have her back home and it should be very enjoyable for a lot of people see her run around in the green and white again,” Gledson told the Herald.

“But my biggest concern is that the rest of the girls don’t just stop and watch her. The one thing I preach is team and they’ve got to keep being part of the team as well, everyone has a role to play.

“We get a chance to have her [Suzy] at training for the first time and then we’ll go from there.”

Gledson said Batkovic would be vital for the defending champions both on and off the court.

“On the court she will bring everything – her experience, her background and her representative levels – she can do it all,” he said.

“Off the court there’s some individual training, but mainly that strong mental approach to show the girls what it takes to make that next level.” 

Elsewhere in the squad Isabelle Palmer (lower back) and Cassidy McLean (wrist) remain out injured for clashes with Bankstown on Saturday and Hornsby on Sunday.