Tasmanian star Eddie Ockenden has been appointed co-captain of the Kookaburras men’s hockey side, alongside Western Australian midfielder Aran Zalewski.
The Mercury can exclusively reveal the duo will today be named by Hockey Australia as interim co-captains for the upcoming Champions Trophy in Breda, the Netherlands.
Ockenden will be the second Tasmanian to lead a major national sporting team, with Tim Paine currently skipper of Australia’s Test and One Day cricket teams.
Today’s announcement will also reveal that Ockenden and Zalewski will each audition for the captaincy, with a permanent single appointment set to be made ahead of November’s World Cup in India.
The Kookaburras captaincy became vacant after the retirement of Commonwealth Games flag bearer Mark Knowles following the Kookaburras gold medal success on home soil.
It is understood that Ockenden and Zalewski will alternate as captain for each Champions Trophy match, as well as during September’s Darwin International Hockey Open event before the World Cup side is announced.
It is widely viewed that the pair were the two standout leadership options within the world number one squad, with Ockenden’s previous experience as a stand-in skipper a telling factor.
A recent move to flank half back has also given Ockenden a new lease of life and the former-Friends School student is relishing the role as he powers towards the Kookaburras games record.
Ockenden is the long-term captain of the Tassie Tigers and famously led them to their first Australian Hockey League title in 2014.
He currently sits as the fourth most capped Kookaburra player with 319 appearances, including 68 goals and was named Kookaburras Player of the Year in 2015.
The 31-year-old will move into outright second position, surpassing Jay Stacy (321 games) and Mark Knowles (324) during the Champions Trophy and pre-tournament series against Germany.
Jamie Dwyer holds the game record with 365 appearances from 2001 to 2016.
The 2018 Champion Trophy runs from June 23 to July 1, with Ockenden chasing his sixth title alongside Tasmanian teammate Jeremy Edwards against the likes of the Netherlands, Argentina, Belgium, India and Pakistan.
Adam Clifford | WorldSportPics