Key New Lambton signing Tara Andrews is keen to make a strong start to the Herald Women's Premier League after a "frustrating" W-League campaign.
The 24-year-old Jets striker had planned to rejoin the Eagles next week but was back at New Lambton training on Wednesday night, focused on the WPL season-opener against back-to-back defending champions Merewether on March 10.
Andrews, who produced 17 goals for the Eagles in their opening WPL campaign, broke her fibula in round two of the W-League and did not return to the pitch until round nine.
"It was a bit frustrating that I had so much time off and I'm disappointed I couldn't play more games because the last four games we did really well and started to find form," Andrews said.
A mounting Jets injury toll meant there was no time for a slow return, but New Lambton are set to reap the benefit.
"It was good being thrown back in there because I had to get fit and playing games is the best form of fitness," Andrews said. "I was planning to come back a bit slower but I felt pretty good by the last game."
The Jets closed their season with a 4-1 rout of Western Sydney two weeks ago and Andrews featured on the score sheet.
Her focus now shifts to the local league and more immediately taking care of unfinished business against Merewether, who defeated the Eagles 2-1 across two legs of last year's semi-finals.
United were the only side New Lambton did not beat in their maiden WPL season. It was also the side they played the most. The two teams met five times, including the finals, for three draws and two results in Merewether’s favour.
"I reckon we can beat them this year and obviously we want to get to the grand final," Andrews said.
"We've got a better team this year all round, so I think we've got a pretty good chance of making it."
The return of Thornton and Mid North Coast restore the WPL to an eight-team and 21-round competition.
"I think the competition will be good," Andrews said. "There's a lot of players coming back to the WPL that will make it pretty competitive."
After her first taste of WPL last year, the civil engineer was keen to stay on with the Eagles.
"I enjoyed it," she said. "Obviously it's a different league to W-League and the standard is a lot different, but I have fun playing here at New Lambton.
"The girls are really good, and with [coach] Keelan [Hamilton] there and it's a really good club to play for, so there was no reason for me to go anywhere else.
"I just want to play well and then get a whole W-League season in."