(Photo: © FIH / Dr. Wolfgang Sternberger)

Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth has given two young players an opportunity of a life time by selecting Matthew Swann (QLD) and Brent Dancer (WA) in the Australian squad to compete at the ABN AMRO Hockey Champions Trophy.

The tournament will be held in Melbourne at the State Netball Hockey Centre in Parkville from 28 November-6 December and will see the Kookaburras as defending champions having won the 2008 Champions Trophy on the eve of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

After a year of experimenting with the squad, in which 14 players made their international debuts, Charlesworth has today selected his Champions Trophy team. The relatively inexperienced pair of Swann and Dancer have earned a place amongst Olympic gold medalists such as Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles, Liam De Young, Brent Livermore and Rob Hammond.

The inclusion of Swann is quite remarkable considering he only made his international debut in October during a five test series against Malaysia and has only played five international matches.

Similarly Dancer, who is the son of former Kookaburras coach Barry Dancer who lead the team to their first ever Olympic gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games, has only played six international matches. He made his international debut earlier in the year during a test series against Canada.

The inclusion of these players comes at the expense of 2008 Olympic Bronze medalists Kiel Brown, David Guest and Eli Matheson, while Victorian striker Russell Ford has also missed selection.

Charlesworth said given the depth of the Kookaburras squad the selection of the Champions Trophy team was difficult.

“The Champions Trophy is an important competition and selection of the squad was difficult. There was a range of players in contention and I think the selection is part of searching for those players who will compete at the World Cup next year,” said Charlesworth.

Overall six 2009 debutants, George Bazeley, Graeme Begbie, Matthew Swann, Brent Dancer, Glenn Turner and Matthew Butturini have been named in the Champions Trophy squad.

“The team is transforming and there still remains up to 20 players in contention for a spot in the 2010 World Cup team. Playing in the Champions Trophy will give each player an opportunity to confirm their quality otherwise there will be someone there to take their spot,” said Charlesworth.

In contrast the team also has a number of experienced players, including two time World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer and veteran Brent Livermore. Livermore’s inclusion in the squad will bring him closer to Jay Stacy’s games record tally of 319 international games, with Livermore currently on 308 games.

The Champions Trophy squad will also compete in a two test series against Spain in Perth over the weekend of 21-22 November.

An Australia A squad including the likes of Brown, Guest, Matheson and Ford will also play against Korea (also competing at the Champions Trophy) in Perth in three practice matches on 19, 21 and 23 November.

At the conclusion of the Champions Trophy Charlesworth will confirm the 2010 National Senior Squad and National Development Squad members.

Team Australia: George Bazeley, Nathan Burgers, Graeme Begbie, Luke Doerner, Matthew Swann, Matthew Butturini, Brent Dancer, Mark Knowles, Brent Livermore, Liam De Young, Fergus Kavanagh, Jamie Dwyer, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Rob Hammond, Des Abbott, Grant Schubert, Glenn Turner.

Source: Hockey Australia