WA goalkeeper Tyler Lovell to reach 100 caps for the Kookaburras against the Netherlands

Western Australia goalkeeper Tyler Lovell will have to be on his game when he plays his 100th game for the Kookaburras at Perth Hockey Stadium.

The world No.1 Australian men posted a 3-3 draw and a 3-2 loss in the opening Tests against the world No.4 Netherlands in Narrogin on the weekend.

Lovell said the coaches had been nice enough to hold him back until the first Perth fixture so that he could celebrate his 100th appearance at home.

Dutch stars Billy Bakker and Mirco Pruyser, who were nominated for world player of the year last year, will be among those trying to get the ball past Lovell.

“They are two of the better players around the world at the moment so it will be a good challenge,” Lovell said.

“I played my first game here against Korea so I was lucky to debut in Perth, and to play my 100th game back in Perth in front of family and friends is going to be awesome.”

Lovell, 30, said he was feeling refreshed heading into the year when he is hoping to be part of a push for gold at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and the World Cup in India.

“The three goalkeepers are all playing well and have been playing well,” Lovell said. “It’s going to be a tough call again come selection for the coaches.

“I think this next six weeks will play a big role in selection.

“We’ve all got to train well and play well.”

Lovell said he felt fortunate to have played as many games as he has, with competition for the goalkeeper spot so hot.

“In years gone by they’d only have one goalkeeper and they’d play all the games,” he said.

“When I came into the program they were pretty clear on rotating and building the depth.

“I could have sat on the bench for 80 games and only played 20 games.”

Pruyser rated Lovell highly, but said the visitors would embrace the challenge of scoring against him.

“He’s a very good goalkeeper, but we have a good goalkeeper as well,” Pruyser said.

“I think they will have some nice saves but we will try to fire a lot of shots on him.”

Netherlands captain Bakker said it was valuable for his side to take on Australia for the first time since the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“They have a really good chance to become a World Cup winner but there are also four or five other countries who do, so it will be close, I think,” Bakker said.

Bridget Lacy  |  The West Australian

 

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