History awaits Madonna
1 May 2014
HOCKEY: Madonna Blyth is poised to become the second-most capped player in Hockeyroos' history heading into next month's women's hockey World Cup.
Queenslander Blyth, 28, was named on Wednesday among a relatively young 18-player Australian squad for the World Cup in The Netherlands.
She is set to pass former skipper Rechelle Hawkes - the only player to win three Olympic gold medals - when she plays her 280th game during the build-up in Europe, leaving her behind only retired Nikki Hudson's record 303 games.
While captain Blyth has experience to burn, coach Adam Commens' World Cup squad contains only seven players from the last World Cup in 2010 where Australia finished fifth and just nine from the 2012 Olympics.
Teneal Attard, 29, and Blyth are the only squad members who played at the 2006 World Cup in Madrid where the Hockeyroos won silver.
However the Hockeyroos have been on an upswing since the London Olympics winning gold medals at the Oceania Cup and World League semi-final tournaments, and a silver medal at the World League Finals in Argentina last November.
"We're a team that has shown it can match it with the top sides in the world," said Commens.
"There's a misconception that we've been together for a long time but we've had significant turnover since the Olympic Games.
"There's a lot of talent in our squad though, we performed well in 2013 and we're aiming to reach the semi-finals.
"We're more than capable of reaching that stage and performing well against the top nations. From there, anything can happen.
"The Dutch are the clear number one and they're in our pool. We'll get a good indication from that match of where we're at but I certainly don't believe we fear anyone in the other side of the draw."
Hockeyroos' World Cup squad: Teneal Attard (Qld), Madonna Blyth (Qld), Edwina Bone (ACT), Jane Claxton (SA), Kirstin Dwyer (Qld), Casey Eastham (NSW), Anna Flanagan (ACT), Emily Hurtz (NSW), Kate Jenner (NSW), Jodie Kenny (Qld), Rachael Lynch (Vic), Karri McMahon (SA), Georgia Nanscawen (Vic), Ashleigh Nelson (WA), Georgie Parker (SA), Emily Smith (NSW), Ashlee Wells (Vic), Kellie White (NSW).
Men named to defend title
The Australian men's squad for next month’s men’s Hockey World Cup has also been announced. National Coach Ric Charlesworth and the selection panel have named what they believe to be the best balanced 18 athlete squad as Australia looks to successfully defend the gold medal won at the 2010 World Cup in Delhi.
Ten of that world title winning side are selected for the 2014 campaign while just three of the squad have made fewer than 50 appearances for Australia.
Announcing the squad, Charlesworth said of the selection process: “It’s as hard as it’s ever been for me. 28 [fit athletes] doesn’t go into 18. It’s been a difficult process and there are two or three very unlucky people; some we just couldn’t find a place for.”
Of the 2010 gold medal winning side, Liam De Young, Jamie Dwyer, Kieran Govers, Rob Hammond, Fergus Kavanagh, Mark Knowles, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Matthew Swann and Glenn Turner will all make the trip to The Hague. For Queenslanders Dwyer and De Young it will be a fourth World Cup having both also played in the Kookaburras’ 2002 and 2006 silver medal winning campaigns. Mark Knowles, Rob Hammond and Russell Ford were also part of the 2006 squad.
For 21 year old Northern Territorian and 2010 Youth Olympian Jeremy Hayward selection marks another milestone in an exciting few months. Having played for the Australian Under 21 side, the Burras, at the Junior World Cup in December 2013, he made his senior international début just last month in the Kookaburras’ successful Sultan Azlan Shah Cup campaign, scoring three goals.
Charlesworth added: “Jeremy Hayward and Aran Zalewski have earned their spots through what they’ve done in the past few months. Jake Whetton and Glenn Simpson are two others who will go to a tournament of this magnitude for the first time.
“There’s a few senior heads there who have stood up to the load. We’ve got Liam De Young playing in the midfield but we know he gives us flexibility in defence too. And our forward line are all good goal scorers.
“A number of our players – both in the World Cup squad and amongst those that haven’t been selected - have been injured but we believe they are on the right trajectory; the next month is critical for them to consolidate that recovery.”
Having come through last week’s Test series against New Zealand unscathed, Matthew Swann and Fergus Kavanagh are named following lengthy lay-offs through injury.
Goalkeepers Andrew Charter and Tyler Lovell receive the call up. Victorians Chris Ciriello and Glenn Simpson are included with 2012 Olympian Ciriello having missed the World League Finals through injury and Simpson set to play in the biggest tournament of his career having missed out on selection for the 2012 Olympic Games and the World League Finals in January.
Speaking about his ambitions for the tournament, Charlesworth said: “As with every tournament we enter we want to play in the main games at the end. To do that you need to hit the ground running and perform consistently through the tournament. We’ll have a few two and three-day breaks in this competition, which will be a new challenge for us but one I believe we’re capable of managing.”
The Kookaburras have won the World Cup on two previous occasions; in 1986 and 2010. Only Pakistan (1978 and 1982) and Germany (2002 and 2006) have successfully defended a men’s World Cup title.
Kookaburras' World Cup squad: Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT), Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC), Liam De Young (Brisbane, QLD), Jamie Dwyer (Rockhampton, QLD), Russell Ford (Melbourne, VIC), Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW), Rob Hammond (Townsville, QLD), Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT), Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA), Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD), Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA), Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS), Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW), Glenn Simpson (Eltham, VIC), Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD), Glenn Turner (Goulburn, NSW), Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD), Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA)