Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth has named his 18 athlete squad for next month’s inaugural Hero Hockey World League Final tournament in Delhi, India.
As the Australian men commence a busy and high profile year featuring the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy competitions, as well as the World League Final, Charlesworth’s squad features a number of athletes for whom the World League Final offers an opportunity to gain highly valuable major tournament experience.
It also sees the return of two of the Kookaburras’ biggest names with Olympic gold medal winner Mark Knowles and London 2012 Olympian Kieran Govers both back from injury.
Experienced defender Knowles has recovered from an ankle injury sustained at September’s Australian Hockey League. The injury forced him to miss November’s Oceania Cup victory in New Zealand, although he filled a leadership role with the team in Taranaki. For Govers, selection marks a welcome return to the Kookaburras after tearing his hamstring in Australia’s semi-final victory over the Netherlands in the last round of the World League competition back in June.
Queenslander Daniel Beale, New South Wales’ Tristan White and Western Australian pair Tyler Lovell and Aran Zalewski have all received the call up. For Beale, selection means a return to the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in Delhi, where recently captained the Australian Under 21 men, the Burras, at the Junior World Cup.
Lovell is one of two goalkeepers named with Victorian stopper George Bazeley returning to the Kookaburras side for the first time since helping the Aussie men to a record seventh Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title in March.
With 24 Kookaburras set to take part in the second edition of the Hockey India League immediately after the conclusion of the World League the load management of a number of athletes has come into consideration.
Speaking about the selected squad, Ric Charlesworth said, “It’s our intention to go and play as well as we can. I believe that this team can win it although we are missing several players for a range of reasons; predominantly injuries and load management.
“There’s a load issue with some of the senior guys in particular, who if selected would then have eight weeks in India. The World League Final will give us an opportunity to look at some of those less experienced players. Aran Zalewski and Jake Whetton were both taken to Europe for the World League Semi-Final tournament but were unlucky to miss out on the final 18 and Tristan White’s doing particularly well. He has been finishing his studies and playing well so he has earned his chance.”
Among those not selected are five-time World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer, 2011 World Young Player of the Year Matthew Swann, Olympic gold medallist Rob Hammond and double Olympic bronze medallist Fergus Kavanagh.
Speaking about the tournament and his side’s chances, Charlesworth said, “It’s a pretty good team, it can do well. It’s difficult to judge where we are because we’re out of season without regular competitive club hockey but the nature of the tournament format allows us to work up to it,” referring to the three match pool phase that determines teams’ opposition in a guaranteed quarter-final.
The Kookaburrras depart for India on 5 January. Drawn in Pool B of the eight team competition they will face Belgium, Olympic silver medallists the Netherlands and Argentina, who proved at the recent International Super Series in Perth just how much they have improved in recent times. The tournament curtain-raiser on 10 January will feature the Kookaburras and Belgium, who beat Australia in the final of the Word League Semi-Final tournament in June after a dramatic shoot-out.
Pool A features hosts India, Olympic champions Germany, England and New Zealand.
Kookaburras Squad for World League Final
10-18 January, Delhi, India
Name (Hometown, State)
George Bazeley (GK) (Melbourne, VIC)
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD)
Kiel Brown (Toowoomba, QLD)
Joel Carroll (Darwin, NT)
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC)
Liam De Young (Brisbane, QLD)
Tim Deavin (Launceston, TAS)
Russell Ford (Eltham, VIC)
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW)
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD)
Tyler Lovell (GK) (Perth, WA)
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS)
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW)
Glenn Turner (Goulburn, NSW)
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD)
Tristan White (Wollongong, NSW)
Jason Wilson (Kingscliff, QLD)
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA)
Kookaburras World League Fixtures
Friday 10 January v Belgium
Saturday 11 January v Netherlands
Monday 13 January v Argentina
Wednesday 15 January v Quarter Final
Friday 17 January v Semi Final or Classification
Saturday 18 January v Medal match or Classification
World ranking positions of competing nations
Germany (1), Australia (2), Netherlands (3), England (4), Belgium (5), New Zealand (7), India (10), Argentina (11)
Kookaburras’ major tournaments 2014
10-19 January: World League Final (Delhi, India)
13-23 March: Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (Ipoh, Malaysia)
31 May – 15 June: World Cup (The Hague, Netherlands)
23 July – 3 August: Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, Scotland)
December (dates tbc): Champions Trophy (India)
Source: Hockey Australia
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