(Photo: © FIH / Vino John)

With the ABN AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy a few short weeks away, this five test series of the Australian men’s team against Malaysia looms as a perfect opportunity for each player to stake their claim ahead of what will be the most prestigious tournament on the 2009 international hockey calendar.

With this in mind, a relatively young squad has been selected for this tour, giving the young players a chance to prove their worth while senior players such as Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles, Eddie Ockenden, Des Abbott and Luke Doerner are still away playing club hockey in the Netherlands.

As a result three players will make their international debuts for the Kookaburras – Matthew Swann, Matt Gohdes and Jonathon Charlesworth. The inclusion of Charlesworth is particularly newsworthy given it will be the first time in Kookaburras history that a father has coached a son at international level.

While Jonathon shares many similarities to his father, including wearing a headband similar to what Ric wore during his playing days and is also studying to be a doctor like his father, he says he is looking forward to paving his own career. “It’s only human nature for people to compare us, but I’m confident that my abilities are enough to have me stand on my own two feet. Having obviously grown up around hockey, I’m very excited to make my debut at the top level,” said Jonathon.

Ric said Jonathon’s inclusion, along with that of Gohdes and Swann, will continue to expand the depth of the Kookaburras squad. “All three players have shown encouraging signs throughout the year and have all earned the right to represent the Kookaburras. Obviously as a father I’m proud of Jonathon, but he will be treated no different from any other player in the squad,” said Charlesworth.

Overall 12 of the 22 players in this squad have played less than 20 games with the Kookaburras. This youthful enthusiasm will be well matched with some genuine experience, with Olympic gold medalists Liam De Young and Rob Hammond also on tour. Despite the fact that Malaysia won’t be competing at the Champions Trophy, this tour will allow the Kookaburras to execute their game style against a quality opposition. While the Kookaburras have had a successful history over Malaysia, they demonstrated that they can’t be taken for granted during a recent match in Adelaide in which Malaysia defeated the Kookaburras for the first time since 1994.

Match schedule Malaysia-Australia:
Monday, 19 October 18:00 Stadium Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur
Tuesday, 20 October 18:00 Stadium Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur
Thursday, 22 October 17:00 Kuantan
Saturday, 24 October 17:30 Stadium Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur
Sunday, 25 October 17:30 Stadium Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur

Source: Hockey Australia