FORMER Hills District junior Ellie Manou will be back in familiar colours when she starts her second stint at the Sydney UniFlames in the Women's National Basketball League.
Manou, 23, returns to the Flames after a mixed two-year stint with the Townsville Fire where she had two injury-interrupted seasons.
Back in former surrounds, Manou said the squad has changed considerably since 2009.
"We've got a very youthful young side now," Manou said.
"I'm hoping I can stay injury-free and help play a leadership role within the team to help some of our younger players."
Manou is also looking to re-launch her representative career after being capped for Australia at junior level.
Two successive knee injuries in two years have cruelled Manou's chances of senior Australian Opals selection, but the former Hornet believes she's finally turned the corner.
"I've got a good program focusing on core body work with plenty of Pilates and swimming," Manou said.
"I feel I'm in great condition now that I've had a solid pre-season and sorted out all my injury problems."
Waiting for Manou and the Flames in round one will be the Canberra Capitals who have pulled off the signing of the year with Women's NBA star Lauren Jackson.
Jackson isn't expected to play in the round one fixture but Manou is expecting a tough contest all the same.
"Having Lauren come back to the women's NBL is a massive signing," she said.
"She and several other Australian girls are now coming back from Europe to play so I think it now reflects the higher standards our league is reaching."
■ Details: wnbl.com.au.