Kookaburras' European Tour Squad Announced
21 May 2007 07:27
Fresh from their Azlan Shah success this month, the Kookaburras squad for the tour of Europe has been announced with international experience still high on the agenda of national coach, Barry Dancer.
Some of the biggest names in international hockey have been added to the Kookaburras' squad for the tour, after being rested from the Azlan Shah to provide valuable exposure to a number of the younger generation of players.
Being able to rest the likes of Jamie Dwyer, Michael McCann and Dean Butler is a luxury that few coaches around the world can afford, yet Barry Dancer was able to do so and still take out the prestigious Azlan Shah tournament, in Malaysia earlier this month with a relatively inexperienced group. And while many teams they competed against were just as inexperienced, it's testament to the depth Dancer has built in his years at the helm, and the strength of the men's program around the country.
"We are in a reasonably strong position," said Dancer
"But we know the challenges we face this year will be significant, particularly with Olympic qualification in August."
"One of the areas we felt we were lacking in the last year and a half was that we weren't able to develop enough depth leading up to the World Cup, so it's something we're addressing now by exposing our whole group to international hockey over the next few months with this tour of Europe and the AIS tour to Europe in late July and August."
"These two tours are joint opportunities for our whole squad to gain selection in the Olympic qualifiers against New Zealand later in the year...someone who plays well on the AIS tour will give them a great opportunity to play in Budderim, in August."
The Kookaburras European Tour will see them travel to Belgium, Germany and Spain for matches against all three nations, with eight games scheduled on the 23 day tour.
"There will be significant challenges in Europe against some very strong opposition so we're looking to expose some of the players that performed well in Malaysia to this. Players like Eddie Ockenden, Russell Ford, Andrew Smith, Kiel Brown and Josh Hawes all get another opportunity, while we also reintroduce some of the senior group."
The Kookaburras depart for Brussels on 1 July and return home on the 24th.
Kookaburras Squad European Tour
Kiel BROWN (QLD), Nathan BURGERS (ACT), Dean BUTLER (QLD), Liam DeYOUNG (QLD), Luke DOERNER (VIC), Jamie DWYER (QLD), Nathan EGLINGTON (QLD), Russell FORD (VIC), Rob HAMMOND (QLD), Josh HAWES (ACT), Aaron HOPKINS (WA), Stephen LAMBERT (QLD), Brent LIVERMORE (NSW), Michael McCANN (NSW), Matt NAYLOR (NSW), Eddie OCKENDEN (TAS), Andrew SMITH (VIC), Matthew WELLS (TAS).
Source: Hockey Australia