Australia announces pre Olympic squad
10 Mar 2008 07:28
The Australian men's hockey team, the Kookaburras, have selected a mixture of youth and experience in their 2008 pre Olympics squad, with two new faces and one older face forcing their way into the squad in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics.
New South Wales pair Simon Orchard and Eli Matheson, 21 and 24 years of age respectively, have made the transition from the development squad into the senior squad, both showing good signs of improvement over the last 12 months.
Although both players have little experience (Orchard 5 games, Matheson 18 games), both were very impressive during the Kookaburras recent 5 Nations tournament in South Africa.
However the biggest inclusion in the squad is that of veteran Stephen Mowlam, the goalkeeper who helped the Australia win their famous gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
After helping the men's hockey team secure their famous gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Mowlam, now 31 years of age, shocked many in the hockey community by announcing his desire to step away from hockey in 2007.
After qualifying for the Victorian 2008 Australian Hockey League squad, in which he is competed in over the last two weeks under the watchful eye of the Australian selectors, Mowlam has found his way back into the squad.
While the squad of 24 has now been selected, Dancer is quick to point out that the hard work has really only begun for the players, with the list needing to be culled once again to only 16 players for the final Olympic team.
"I feel our performances in 2007 did not possess the passion, vitality and team ethos needed for us to be constantly ahead of our opponents.
I feel confident that the squad we have selected has the talent and the character needed to make the improvement necessary to achieve our goal in the next five months," said Dancer.
While noting the need for improvement, Dancer says he is confident the lead up to the Olympics will get the best out of his players.
"I expect the centralized training environment when the players become full time athletes will also provide us with the opportunity to develop team cohesion and the team ethos further.
There is obviously an evenness across the squad that will drive the intensity of each individuals training and that of the group collectively."
Dancer said be believes the added knowledge for the players that the squad needs to be drastically cut once again will act as positive incentive to get the best out of the players.
"I expect all players in our squad will be feeling selection pressure over the next three months and that this will take their game to a new level", said Dancer.
Squad Australia: Des Abbott, Travis Brooks, Kiel Brown, Nathan Burgers, Liam De Young, Luke Doerner, Jamie Dwyer, Nathan Eglington, Russell Ford, Bevan George, David Guest, Robert Hammond, Aaron Hopkins, Fergus Kavanagh, Mark Knowles, Stephen Lambert, Brent Livermore, Eli Matheson, Stephen Mowlam, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Grant Schubert, Andrew Smith, Matthew Wells.
Source: Hockey Australia