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Young Kookaburras get their chance
04 May 2007 12:10

Several young Kookaburras get their chance to shine when the Azlan Shah Tournament begins in Ipoh, Malaysia on Saturday.

Fergus Kavanagh will make his international debut, while Kiel Brown, Des Abbott, Daniel McPherson, Russell Ford and Josh Hawes will all add to their international experience in the tournament and Andrew Smith will make his long awaited return to international hockey.

With a strong mix of new and older players, coach for the tournament, Colin Batch, is expecting these younger players to make the most of their opportunity at this level.

"This tour really is about providing an opportunity for everyone to stake a claim for the European tour in July, and then the Olympic test event, in Beijing, in August," he said.

"For a lot of these younger guys, or those with less experience, we're giving them an opportunity to take the next step and prove that they can compete at this level."

While there are a number of younger players, there are also a few old hands coming back into the fold. Matthew Wells comes back into the Kookaburras' outfit after a long stint on the sidelines through injury, while Andrew Smith has also been welcomed back after a strong Australian Hockey League (AHL).

"It's a mixed group. There are a number of players with less than 10 internationals but we've also got some older players as well. This group's always been very good at introducing new players to the group and that's the case here."

The Kookaburras have some tough round matches with the first, on Saturday, against India. They'll then have to back it up the next day in another tough match against Argentina.

"We've acclimatised to the conditions over here, it's quite warm, particularly at 4pm when we're playing both our first round matches," said Batch.

"We don't know too much about India. We haven't played them much recently and we understand their line-up has changed a bit. They've got a new coach and are always dangerous so it will be a real test for us."

Source: Hockey Australia

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