The Kookaburras march to defend their gold medal at the Beijing Olympics will receive a significant boost as the Australian team holds a dress rehearsal in the form of two Four Nations tournaments from 23 April until 4 May.

Played in both Perth and Darwin over two weeks, the tournaments will simulate similar weather conditions expected in Beijing while pitting the Kookaburras against world class opponents in India, Korea and China.

Kookaburras coach Barry Dancer says the tournament will offer a sound preparation platform for his team leading into the Olympics, while also providing a good test to measure the development of the team’s Olympic training program.

“These tournaments come off the back of five weeks of full time training where the squad has relocated to Perth and the AIS / Hockey Australia High Performance Unit, so it will be a good test to see if our Olympic preparation is progressing at a desirable rate,” said Dancer.

“Whilst the training program can assist with assessing our development these international tournaments will provide a far more accurate means of assessing our progress.”

While monitoring the team’s performance, Dancer says the fact that the matches will be played in the humid conditions of Darwin in particular will also provide an opportunity for the team to test their cooling strategies planned for the Olympics.

Darwin was identified as a suitable venue due to the similarities of the conditions between it and Beijing later this year. Not only will it allow the players to adapt to the heat, it will also provide an opportunity for our sports science staff to explore various cooling strategies in order to get the most out of the players in hot and humid conditions.”

As three of the four teams competing in the Four Nations tournaments are bound for the Olympic Games, the tournaments will provide a terrific opportunity for each team to assess their strengths and weakness prior to the Olympics.

China, Korea and India have different playing styles, so the fact that we are putting our side up against three different types of game plans will assist our development.”

While the tournaments provide a valuable opportunity to assess our team cohesion, it is also an opportunity for each individual to demonstrate their worth to the Australian squad.

“In terms of team selection, these tournaments will allow individuals to step up and show the coaching staff what they can do. From here, we will be identifying the 18 players who will represent Australia at the Champions Trophy in the Netherlands in June, so performances in these two tournaments are obviously very important’

Source: Hockey Australia