9 June 2017: Seven-time WNBL championship winner Natalie Hurst has opened a new chapter in her long-running relationship with the University of Canberra Capitals after re-signing with the club.
Hurst was unveiled on Friday as the UC Capitals’s latest high-profile signing ahead of the 2017/18 WNBL season.
The move seals her return to the club she helped become the most successful in WNBL history.
Hurst joined the UC Capitals as a teenager in 1999 and went on to win seven championships in nine seasons. She is the only player in the club’s history to have been involved in all seven championships.
The 34-year-old last played for the UC Capitals in 2010 when the side won its seventh title and has been playing in Europe ever since.
She returned home earlier this year after a season with Turkish club Hatay and made the decision to make an Australian comeback instead of continuing her career abroad.
“I’m excited to return to where it all began,” Hurst said. “This club played such an important role in shaping me as a player and I enjoyed some of the best moments of my career here.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of this new and exciting era at the UC Capitals and adding to the fond memories I have of the club.”
Hurst was invited to an Australian Opals training camp last month ahead of the FIBA Asia Women’s Cup in July.
A lingering foot injury has ruled her out of contention, but the veteran guard said it wouldn’t impact on her preparations for the upcoming WNBL season.
“My body’s feeling good, my mind’s feeling good,” she said. “I feel like I’ve found a new lease in basketball by re-signing with the UC Capitals.
“The club is heading in the right direction and I’m really looking forward to getting started.”
Head coach Paul Goriss said Hurst’s return to Canberra was a huge coup for the club and its supporters.
“It’s a special signing for the UC Capitals, bringing back a local Canberra player to her hometown and the only club she has played for in WNBL,” Goriss said.
“In Nat, we have signed not only a local Canberra athlete, but someone who has played in the best leagues in the world and against some of the best female basketball players.”
Goriss said the signing represented an important step in the club’s journey back to the top.
“She ticks all the boxes for us: she’s a great leader, a fierce competitor, makes others around her better and provides us with a veteran on the court.”