NETBALL: Sunshine Coast coach Noeline Taurua has sent an ominous warning to rival teams, suggesting the reigning champions can be even better in 2018.
Lightning players returned to work on Tuesday for a lengthy pre-season, before a mouth-watering round one clash against Giants in Sydney in late April.
The squad has much more time to prepare this time around, after being hastily formed for their inaugural Super Netball campaign.
"We're very lucky going into this season that we've got a bit of time to be able to plan and hopefully be a bit smarter and wiser with our routines and to ... probably be more strategic," the coach said.
"Last year we just sort of went on a whim (and) even though we came out with a premiership we know there's a lot more we can do to improve."
The squad has discussed the possibility of going "back-to-back" but is approaching 2018 with a fresh approach.
"The slate's been wiped and we start the journey again," Taurua said.
Nine of the 10 players have returned and they're in good shape, particularly those who have been involved in international matches during the domestic off-season.
"The players have come back in at a higher lever than where they started at last year," Taurua said.
"The majority of them have come back in at the level we left so that's exciting as a coach - knowing we can build on top of the foundation of 2017."
The Lightning squad boasts international stars Caitlin Bassett, Stephanie Wood, Geva Mentor and Karla Mostert, who was the player of the grand final last year.
Mentor said they were eager to make the most of their time together before their opening clash in Sydney.
"For us to have some months under our belt, to allow us more time to strengthen up and improve our skill level, is going to put is in great stead."
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