Thursday, 22 December (Perth, Australia) – Hockey Australia has today announced the 23-player men’s hockey squad that will form the core group of athletes as the Kookaburras look ahead to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Of the 23, nine are returning squad members who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games team, including Kookaburras veterans captain and four-time Olympian Mark Knowles, triple Olympian Eddie Ockenden and dual Olympian Matthew Swann.
The new look squad has been formed following on from the Kookaburras’ sixth place finish in Rio as newly appointed head coach Colin Batch and High Performance Director Toni Cumpston look to rebuild the squad heading towards the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The recent tours in New Zealand for the trans-Tasman Trophy, and at the International Festival of Hockey in Victoria also gave up-and-coming players the opportunity to prove their abilities, with three athletes – Aaron Kleinschmidt (age 26), Casey Hammond (22) and Ben Craig (23) – selected to the national squad based on their performances at these events.
Included in the 2017 squad for the first time, Craig from Lane Cove in New South Wales, will join younger brother Tom (21) who himself debuted for the Kookaburras in 2014.
Along with Hammond, two other athletes have been elevated to the senior national squad from the national development squad; Tasmanian Jeremy Edwards who has proven himself throughout the course of 2016 as he trained with the senior squad, and Kiran Arunasalam (21) of Victoria, who showed his ability at the recent Junior World Cup in Lucknow, India.
Kookaburras head coach Colin Batch said: “We’ve taken a long-term view with this selection, and it’s based upon building the team through the next four-year cycle so that we are successful at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“I want to stress that we know it’s a hard line that has been taken with the 2017 squad selection, and some of the athletes who have missed out still have potential and may get called upon in the short term.
“However, we have gone with a squad who we think are talented individuals, and who will benefit from the development opportunities they can be given in the training environment with the national squad as we look to triumph in Tokyo.”
The squad will reconvene in Perth in March to begin training at the Perth Hockey Stadium where their schedule will include preparations for the International Hockey Open in Darwin in March, the World League semi-final in Johannesburg in July, the Oceania Cup in October, and the World League final in India in December subject to qualification.
Further athletes may be nominated to the men’s national squad in the new year once the team has begun training in Perth.
The Kookaburras’ full coaching team will be announced in the new year once interviews have taken place for the assistant coach position.
2017 Men’s Hockey Squad
Name (Hometown, State)
Kiran Arunasalam (Doncaster East, VIC)
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD)
Joshua Beltz (Hobart, TAS)
Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT)
Tom Craig (Lane Cove, NSW)
Ben Craig (Lane Cove, NSW)
Matthew Dawson (Killarney Vale, NSW)
Jeremy Edwards (Hobart, TAS)
Blake Govers (Wollongong, NSW)
Casey Hammond (Bundoora, VIC)
Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT)
Aaron Kleinschmidt (Melbourne, VIC)
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD)
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA)
Trent Mitton (Perth, WA)
Edward Ockenden (Hobart, TAS)
Flynn Ogilvie (Wollongong, NSW)
Andrew Philpott (Melbourne, VIC)
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD)
Jacob Whetton (Brisbane, QLD)
Tristan White (Wollongong, NSW)
Dylan Wotherspoon (Murwillumbah, NSW) *plays for QLD
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA)
Author: Holly MacNeil