THE Hunter Hurricanes have signed former University of California assistant coach Tim Settem to guide them through the 2011 National Water Polo League which starts in early February.
The Hurricanes missed out on a finals berth last year and are hoping Settem, who replaces Kyle Jones as head coach, can help lift them from the bottom half of the ladder.
At least three of the players are familiar faces to Settem, who arrived in Newcastle at the start of the month.
He used to coach American imports Justin Johnson and Ross Sinclair, and he has brought another former protege, Justin Rappel, into the squad.
"I've known about the Hurricanes for a while through Justin and Ross," Settem said.
"Ross is a great all-rounder and would probably be one of the top shooters in the squad.
"Johnson is a centre-back and will give us so much depth there, and Justin is a really strong left-hander.
"All three have the potential to start for the team."
And the talent of 17-year-old Hurricanes junior Nathan Powers has already caught the new coach's eye.
"He's a young player who can have a real impact for us, even if it's off the bench," Settem said.
"We'll have a really deep team this year with a lot of talent. With some consistency we'll do well."
Settem said the mood in the club had been positive since his arrival.
The squad has been training since September and competing in the Sydney metropolitan league twice a week to get them ready for the national league.
Settem said the players had been working hard, spurred on by wanting "something different" out of the new season, compared to last year's ninth place.
He said some fundamental improvements vital to the Hurricanes game were ball control and competence in front of goals.
"The desire is there, but so is the need to improve," he said. "I see us only getting better. They have all impressed me in one way, shape or form."
Settem's relocation from the beachside city of Santa Barbara to Newcastle was almost seamless.
"The move was an easy transition, it's very much like home," he said.
Leaving behind family and friends was made easier by the welcome he received.
"I've got plenty of new family here."
The Hurricanes' first match of 2011 will be away to UNSW Wests Magpies on February 5.