The beginning of a new and exciting era for the Australian women’s team has been reconfirmed, with Hockeyroos coach Frank Murray today announcing his 2009 national squad, with the inclusion of 9 national debutants.
Demonstrating the youthful nature of the new Hockeyroos line up, the squad includes a 16 year old and a 17 year old amongst the new group of 9 debutants in Georgia Nanscawen (VIC) and Anna Flanagan (ACT).
While both are still quite young, Hockeyroos coach Frank Murray says both have a lot of potential and have deserved their spot in the squad.
”While we will obviously take a long term view with these two younger players it is not just a case of getting them in the squad now to expose them to the top level for development. While this will obviously happen, both certainly deserved their spot in the squad as they both played well throughout the Australian Hockey League. They are both very talented and while this doesn’t confirm them a ticket to the London 2012 Olympics they both have great attitudes,” said
While Nikki Hudson’s recent retirement from international hockey signaled a fresh start for the Hockeyroos, today’s squad announcement reconfirms the arrival of a new era as they begin their climb back to Olympic glory at the London 2012 Olympics.
In addition to Hudson there are several other key names missing from the 2009 squad due to retirement including Rachel Imison, Sarah Young (nee Taylor), Angie Lambert (nee Skirving) and Melanie Wells (nee Twitt).
Overall, 1571 international games experience is missing from the 2009 squad compare to 2008, with the 2008 average games played decreasing from 111 in 2008 to 46.8 in 2009.
In addition to the 9 debutants, the squad sees the return of former squad members Claire Messent and Sarah O’Connor, who with only international 13 games between them makes them relatively new to the squad also.
While coach Frank Murray said it is common for a team to loss several players after an Olympic campaign, it was unusual for the preceding team to be this young, highlighting that at the squad includes six players who could qualify for the 2009 Junior World Cup squad played later in the year.
”In 2005 after Athens we brought in some young players in Madonna Blyth and Teneal Attard, but they had at least already played some international games. This time around we have six players who can qualify for the Junior World Cup squad in Casey Eastham (20), Georgia Nanscawen (16), Anna Flanagan (17), Emily Hurtz (20), Heather Langham (19) Danielle Schubach (20).
While the average age of the 2009 Hockeyroos squad is 23, coach Frank Murray says it is critical for the mid aged players to step up and take on more leadership roles.
”We already have some experienced players in Kim Walker and Emily Halliday. It is now important that those in the mid 20’s age bracket such as Madonna Blyth, Kobie McGurk, Teneal Attard and Kate Hollywood step up over the next Olympic cycle and become leaders for the team,” said Murray.
In lights of this
Currently ranked fifth in the world, the Hockeyroos are still regarded as one of the best teams in the world. Despite losing only one game at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to eventual gold medalists the Netherlands, the Hockeyroos have finished 5th at the last two Olympiads.
Coach Frank Murray says he believes results at major events over the past few years demonstrate that the Hockeyroos are still one of the world’s best teams, and the inclusion of the debutants will create some excitement towards the teams next Olympic cycle.
The first step in the Hockeyroos march to the top of the hockey world will take place on home soil, when the Hockeyroos host the world’s top six nations at the Samsung Hockey Champions Trophy – Women Sydney 2009 from 11-19 July.
As the first major international tournament since the Beijing Olympics, the Champions Trophy will be the first opportunity for the Hockeyroos to unveil their new era, with the added bonus of doing this on home soil a unique opportunity for hockey fans which should not be missed.
2009 Hockeyroos Squad: Nicole Arrold, Teneal Attard, Jane Bennett, Madonna Blyth, Alison Bruce, Toni Cronk, Casey Eastham, Anna Flanagan, DeAnne Gilbert, Emily Halliday, Kate Hollywood, Emily Hurtz, Fiona Johnson, Stacia Joseph, Heather Langham, Rachael Lynch, Kobie McGurk, Claire Messent, Hope Munro, Georgia Nanscawen, Ashleigh Nelson, Sarah O'Connor, Airlie Ogilvie, Megan Rivers, Danielle Schubach, Kim Walker.
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