With Opals star Marianna Tolo returning to Europe and champion Carly Wilson retiring, the Capitals needed a genuine star signing to build on their progress this season. They now have that, with two-time Olympian Rachel Jarry agreeing to join the team for next season. It’s a major boost not just for the Canberra team, but for a league competing with lucrative overseas leagues for the best Australian talent.
“It is really exciting” Jarry said of her return. “I love playing in the WNBL. The opportunity to play with the Capitals has worked out really well”.
Briefly back in Australia after a season with French club Lattes Montepelier, Jarry says she kept an eye on the Australian competition from Europe and liked what she saw from her new team. “I thought the (Capitals) brought in some really young girls who showed a lot of improvement, so it’ll definitely be exciting seeing where they’ll go next season”.
While still only 25, already has a wealth of high-level experience, with the London and Rio Olympic campaigns, a WNBA championship run with the Minnesota Lynx and a spell with Lattes Montepelier, which included a Supercup win and Euroleague competition. It’s experience that Jarry hopes will translate into a leadership role at the Capitals, where she can mentor young stars like forward Keely Froling.
“I think that’s a strength of mine, that something that just comes naturally to me” she says of being a leader. “If I can help (the young players) out in any way, it’s only going to benefit the team”.
In her last WNBL season, Jarry was a top 20 scorer and rebounder and hit three-pointers at a scorching 47%, good for third best in the league. She gives Canberra a genuine two-way force on the wing.
Rachel Jarry with coach Paul Gorriss. "I've known 'Gorrie' for a long time" she said.
“I think I’ll probably be in that 3 (small forward) spot, maybe moving around positions when needed. I think playing at the 3 gives me that flexibility to play as a guard or if I get a smaller matchup, I can post up as well. It gives me a chance to show my versatility”.
Having seen a range of defensive assignments during her time in France, Jarry will give the Capitals a player capable of defending multiple positions. “I was matching up with some of the great bigs in the world and also guards” she says. “I think that’s another strength of mine, being able to defend different matchups”.
Speaking just before the league's new TV deal was announced, Jarry feels the league is in a better place now than during her last season here, when she was signed to the now defunct South East Queensland Stars. “The league is always strong, but it’s about being sustainable and making it attractive for Opals to stay here. Hopefully there are exciting things on the horizon...which I think will help attract girls back here”.
Having played in the sport’s top league, the WNBA, Jarry says the experience has improved her attention to detail. “You need to be really on top of your one-percenters” she says of the demands of the WNBA. “Getting enough sleep, eating the right things, everything like that”.
Already an elite WNBL player before joining Minnesota, Jarry has continued to fine-tune her game. “I’ve improved my decision-making and that is something that’s constantly a focus of mine” she says. “I think overall my basketball smarts have improved a lot”
Set to rejoin Canberra after a WNBA season with the Atlanta Dream, Jarry is hopeful there are better days ahead for the league. “We’re doing some good work behind the scenes, hopefully that will come into public knowledge soon and we’ll be able to showcase our sport and make it attractive for young girls to get involved”.