New team, new captain and a new fortress. Canberra Capitals skipper Natalie Hurst hopes to help the club rebuild its WNBL reputation as she prepares to take the leadership reins almost 20 years after her debut.
Hurst was unveiled as the Capitals' new leader on Tuesday as the team prepares to start its season with a clash against the Bendigo Spirit at the National Convention Centre on Friday night.
Hurst, the only player to have been involved in Canberra's seven championships, is the ideal person to help the Capitals transition into a refreshed era.
The 34-year-old believes the new-look Capitals can build something special, starting with creating a home fortress at a new $250,000 court at the convention centre.
The Capitals have shifted their base from Tuggeranong to Civic in the hope of luring in more fans.
Hurst knows how powerful a home-court advantage can be having help the Capitals win 26 games in a row at Tuggeranong between 2005-09.
Hurst wants to recapture that feeling after returning to Canberra and becoming the club's stand alone captain for the first time since her first WNBL season in 1999.
"We were a tough team to beat [at Tuggeranong], teams didn't want to come and play us there," Hurst said.
"I'm hoping we can bring that environment [to the convention centre] and I think we're going to be a super tough team to beat here."
"I want to help the younger girls grow and if I can give them some experience, I'll be excited by that. It is different, but it's exciting to be back. This is just the start of where we can go."
Marquee recruit Rachel Jarry is an uncertain starter for the first game of the year as she continues to manage a knee injury.
Two-time title winner Kate Gaze will be the vice-captain to Hurst, while WNBA veteran Mistie Bass will add valuable depth and leadership to the Capitals' roster.
"Seeing how far we've come ... seeing the program grow is huge," Gaze said.
"To hopefully put all of the pieces together this year and bring a championship back to Canberra would be awesome to be a part of.
"There was never a question whether I wanted to come back and I'm so happy to be here, it's a huge honour to have this role."
Hurst is entering the twilight of her career and could be a bolter in the Australian Opals squad for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next year.
But basketball has a different place in Hurst's life after becoming a mum for the first time earlier this year.
Hurst still has one eye on Opals duties, but family life and Capitals success are her main priorities.
"Life has changed for me. You can't take stress home now that there is a little baby at home waiting for you," Hurst said.
"Those things take a back seat. I'm a mum first and a basketballer second. Hopefully I can go out on something good and hopefully that can happen her.
"At my age you've got to start to think about when things are going to end. But that's not in my mind now, hopefully I've got a few more years left in me yet to see where we can take this."
WNBL ROUND ONE
Friday: Capitals v Bendigo Spirit at National Convention Centre, 7.30pm.
Sunday: Capitals v Adelaide Lightning at National Convention Centre, 3pm