Rachel Fattal won an Olympic gold medal 16 months ago.
She scored twice in the Games final.
And now the 24-year-old has landed at Lambton Pool as the Hunter Hurricanes’ star recruit for the 2018 National Water Polo League season, which starts next weekend.
“It’s not every day you get an Olympic gold medalist in your team,” first-time Hurricanes women’s coach Mitch Baird, who takes over from Jenny MacGregor, said.
“She’s a winner. She’s been there and done that, played at the highest level and claimed the ultimate prize.
“It’s really good to have her on board, bringing her experiences and teaching the young girls how to play the game the right way. Offering her leadership advice.”
Attacking-option Fattal, an alumni from ULCA (University of California, Los Angeles), joins the Hunter club for this campaign alongside three others.
The Hurricanes fellow overseas signings are goalkeeper Sarah Logan (University of Hawaii) and Canadian centre forward Chayma Hlanadif while former Australian representative Jane Moran, who clinched bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, is also on board.
Combined with a younger brigade including Montana Perkins, Belle Humby and returning Julia Barton, who played in last year’s national senior squad but remains sidelined with a shoulder injury, coach Baird holds great optimism about Hunter potentially cracking the finals.
“I feel like our team is a lot more balanced,” Baird said. “I’m excited about the year.”
Baird will also play for the Hurricanes men’s team again with the Marsden brothers, Mitch and Keenan, set to return and UCLA trio Matt Farmar (utility), Alek Ruzic (goalkeeper) and James Robinson (driver) arriving Down Under fresh from a US College title.
“I feel like this is one of the better pre-seasons we’ve had going into a season,” the one-time Aussie player said.
“We started a bit earlier than normal and we’ve really concentrated on our swimming.”
Hunter open their campaign away against Drummoyne on February 3 while their first home game will be hosting the UWA Torpedoes at Lambton Pool in a midweek double header on February 13 and 14.
Following last year’s successful debut Newcastle Harbour will again see water polo action in 2018 with fixtures against Fremantle and the Queensland Breakers scheduled for back-to-back Saturdays on February 17 and 24 respectively.
The club will hold a season launch at the Queens Wharf Hotel on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes pair Kate Hughes and Mitch Robinson were both named in the team of the tournament following the national under-18 championships, which wrapped up in Sydney on Sunday.
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