If there was any doubt about how some roster changes would affect Fusion Heat's bid for a fifth straight Rawson Homes Premiership A Grade crown, they were blown out of the water on Saturday.
The four-time defending premiers started the new season in scintillating fashion, scoring a 73-32 round one win over Fusion Wild at the Nita McGrath courts.
Captain Tash Robinson isn't expected to feature on the court at all this year after suffering a serious knee injury late last season while key defender Britt Hill is taking 2021 off to recover from a number of niggling injuries and a number of younger players have also left for university.
Despite all that, Fusion Heat still worked like a well-oiled machine on Saturday.
The loss of key players has been balanced out by a number of arrivals as well as the return of star shooter Michelle Regan, who took last season off due to the birth of a child and work commitments.
"It was so good being back," Regan said of Saturday's win.
"It was an amazing feeling, the way everyone gelled so well.
"We always respect the opposition and they (Fusion Wild) did really well. They only had six regulars and a fill-in so they were a little under-prepared."
Fusion Heat were able to build momentum early on and once that happened they were always going to be near-impossible to catch.
Regan admitted she felt a little rusty in her return to action but she still got plenty of opportunities to score thanks to excellent service from the midcourt.
Hannah Allen has returned from three years away from the sport and Regan described her performance in the midcourt as "unreal" while under 15s player Mikayla McKeown also proved she was up to the level required in her impressive Heat debut.
Bec Weekes, who was part of Heat's first of first straight premiership wins, is also back after time in other sides while Emily Coggan and Isabella Attwater remain as key figures.
"We always try to include the younger ones and help them develop and give them that exposure," Regan said.
"Seeing the others have a go and seeing the passion of the younger players makes you more passionate. They're so enthusiastic.
"The whole cohort is amazing. There's representative players and it's such a solid team even though it's different. It's exciting with the strength we have."
That quality across the court has Heat already eyeing a fifth straight title win.
"Most of the girls are very competitive. We'll do what we can to uphold this streak and we'll give it our all," Regan added.
Keeping the streak alive will be that bit more difficult without the leadership and midcourt skills of Robinson but Regan said the former captain is still having a major impact on the powerhouse side.
"Tash continues to provide a pivotal role mentoring and providing guidance from the sideline," the shooter said.
"This will help lessen the blow of not having her experience on the court each week."
Elsewhere in Saturday's first round, the Dubbo Rhinos proved they're a different side this year while Nyngan edged out the Macquarie Hornets.
The Rhinos Rebels failed to a win a game during an injury-ravaged 2020 season but scored a 57-48 win over St Groovers on Saturday while Nyngan downed the Hornets 50-40.
The Narromine Hawks had the bye.
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