THE Tassie Spirit will begin its Australian Netball League campaign at the Silverdome this weekend determined to build on its eighth-place finish last season.
Its first challenges will come from one of last season's powerhouses and one of its strugglers. The Southern Force, which finished fourth last year, won the competition in 2012 and has Adelaide Thunderbirds' Cody Lange and Samantha Poolman in its squad.
But things are likely to be easier against the Canberra Darters, last year's wooden- spooners.
The Queensland Fusion will also be part of the weekend, facing off against the Force and the Darters.
Officials have declared the Spirit squad the strongest it has been in years, with coach Jon Fletcher, assistant Andrew Jackson and high performance manager and former Melbourne Vixens coach Julie Hoornweg confident of success.
"The players we have selected have the quality to match it with the strong opposition they will be facing," Fletcher said.
"It will be a challenge but we are confident that the players have the ability and we look forward to some solid results."
Northern Hawks' Steffi Grenda and Cavaliers' Kelsey Rainbow will miss due to injury, with the squad featuring the returning Maddie Carter, Sophie Gunn and Ebony Roberts after their stints in the Victorian Netball League.
Northern players Dannie Carstens, Sandra Bennett, Cath Van Keulen, Estelle Margetts and Shelby Miller (all Cavaliers) and Northern Hawk Ashton Whiley are also in the squad.
The Spirit will play at 8.30 tonight and midday tomorrow..