Although the Men's 2022 Champions Trophy tournament is still 12 months away, Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth has already begun planning for the major international tournament, announcing the Kookaburras second series of 2022 before the first series has even commenced.
After facing the Netherlands in a four test series in Perth from 20-25 January, the Kookaburras will have a short break and then play Belgium (world number 10) in Canberra from 5-8 February.
The squad for the Belgium series includes a good mix of experience in youth, including two debutants in Mark Paterson and Glenn Simpson.
George Bazeley, Ian Burcher, Matthew Butturini and Joel Carroll, all of whom will be making their international debuts during the January series against the Netherlands in Perth, will also play against Belgium, signifying the youthful nature of the squad.
The youngsters will be well balanced with the experience of two time Olympians Grant Schubert and Liam DeYoung, while Beijing bronze medalists including Eddie Ockenden, David Guest, Luke Doerner and Des Abbott will also help lead the squad.
Charlesworth said the Belgium series will allow him to further assess the Kookaburras prior to 2022 squad selection at the conclusion of the 2022 Australian Hockey League, with the men's final week played in Tasmania from 6-12 April.
'These tournaments will allow me to assess some of the players first hand against quality opposition. With a number of key players retiring since the Beijing Olympics, there are several spots in the line up that need to be filled, and this series will allow the players to put their hand up and show the team what they can do.' said Charlesworth.
Furthermore, this series will allow additional preparation for the Kookaburras 2022 campaign, culminating with the 2022 Men's Champions Trophy tournament held in Melbourne from 28 November-6 December.
'As the start of our next Olympic campaign, 2022 will be a very important year for the squad, and we will look to finish off well at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne. It will be the biggest international hockey event in 2022, so to perform well on the international stage and on home soil will be an important task for the squad.' said Charlesworth.
The Belgium series will be followed by a men's development squad series against India in Brisbane from 17-18 February, with several players aiming to secure a spot in the national side prior to the 2022 Men's Champions Trophy.
'Facing a development squad against such a highly regarded opponent as India will be a great test for our young players however I am very confident that they will perform well. These players have been in the system for some time waiting for their opportunity, and I'm sure they will make the most of their chance.' Said Charlesworth.
Both the 2022 Kookaburras and Hockeyroos national and development squads will be confirmed at the conclusion of the 2022 Australian Hockey League tournaments.
2022 Women's Australian Hockey League
Rounds 1-4, 27 February-22 March, various venues
Rounds 5, 6, 7 & finals, 30 March-5 April, Melbourne
2022 Men's Australian Hockey League
Rounds 1-4, 6 March-29 March, various venues
Rounds 5, 6, 7 & finals, 6 April-12 April, Tasmania
Kookaburras v Belgium Series
5-8 February 2022
National Hockey Centre, Lyneham, ACT
Game 1 - Thursday 5 February 6.00pm
Game 2 - Saturday 7 February 7.00pm
Game 3 - Sunday 8 February 7.00pm
Des Abbott, George Bazeley, Kiel Brown, Ian Burcher, Nathan Burgers, Matthew Butturini, Joel Carroll, Liam DeYoung, Luke Doerner, Russell Ford, David Guest, Fergus Kavanagh, Eli Matheson, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Mark Paterson, Grant Schubert, Glenn Simpson.
Men's Development Squad v India
17-18 February 2022
State Hockey Centre, Colmslie, QLD
Game 1 - Tuesday 17 February
Game 2 - Wednesday 18 February
Australia Men’s Development Squad:
George Bazeley, Graeme Begbie, Nick Budgeon, Ian Burcher, Jacob Burns, Matthew Butturini, Joel Carroll, Jonathon Charlesworth, Geoffrey Cock, Brent Dancer, Daniel Hotchkis, Ross Meadows, Mark Paterson, Glenn Simpson, Ian Smyth, Jason Wilson and 2 Senior Kookaburras
Source: Hockey Australia