[img_assist|nid=3520|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=220|height=146]World number-one ranked men’s hockey side Australia have named ten Olympic first-timers in their squad of 16 to compete in the London 2012 Games.
The Kookaburras took home bronze from Beijing four years ago.
Coach Ric Charlesworth said that while the past week had been stressful for selectors, his thoughts were with the exceptionally talented players that had missed out. But he added that the two reserve spots were still open and, with recent experience with injuries, the sixteen could change over the next few weeks.
“It is our job to make judgements about balance and covering every base but in the end there are players that are unlucky,” he said.
“This has been a long process over 12 months and many factors were considered.”
The Kookaburras leadership group will be headed by five time World Player of the Year, Jamie Dwyer and will include Mark Knowles, Liam De Young, Eddie Ockenden and Fergus Kavanagh.
Star striker Des Abbott will be joined in the team by his cousin Joel Carroll, who has filled the opening on the backline, after Graeme Begbie suffered a serious knee injury in May.
“Joel earned his spot in the team through consistent performances this year. At the start of the year he was probably outside the 16, so he played his way into the team,” Charlesworth said.
Young striker Matt Gohdes, who is Jamie Dwyer’s first cousin and drag flick specialist Kieran Govers are exciting prospects and are expected to be key players to watch in London.
“Both played well at last year’s Champions Trophy and have progressed solidly and Kieran will be an option drag flicking on penalty Corners alongside Chris Ciriello,” he said.
Midfielder Tim Deavin will join fellow Tasmanian Ockenden in the line-up in his first Games.
“We really need his energy, he is a workhorse and we rely on his creative play in midfield,” Charlesworth said.
Goal scoring machine Glenn Turner had hip surgery last year to give him-self the best chance of selection, which has paid dividends.
Goal keeper Nathan Burgers has now cemented his place as the number one keeper in the team after a strong challenge from George Bazeley and Andrew Charter.
“He has a huge responsibility and a very important role and I hope he feels like there’s a lot of work to be done yet,” Charlesworth said.
The fight for selection is not over yet however, as two reserves will be picked and there are injury clouds over others.
“There is still a contest on for the other two spots and the final squad doesn’t have to be handed over until July,” Charlesworth said
The extra six players that will compete in a three test series in Cairns next week against New Zealand will still be vying for a trip to London.
“With our recent injury history, there is some doubt this will be the final 16 we take,” he said.
Matthew Swann, Simon Orchard, Liam De Young and Matthew Butturini will travel to Cairns to participate in the team’s preparation but won’t play due to their injuries.
Olympic Team:Des Abbott(NT) Nathan Burgers(QLD), Matthew Butturini(NSW), Joel Carroll(NT), Chris Ciriello(VIC), Tim Deavin(TAS), Liam De Young(QLD), Jamie Dwyer(QLD), Matt Gohdes(QLD), Kieran Govers(NSW), Fergus Kavanagh(WA), Mark Knowles(QLD), Eddie Ockenden(TAS), Simon Orchard(NSW), Matthew Swann(QLD), Glenn Turner(ACT)
Extended Squad for Cairns Series v New Zealand June 19-26: George Bazeley(VIC), Kiel Brown(WA), Luke Doerner(VIC), Russell Ford(VIC), Rob Hammond(QLD), Glenn Simpson(VIC)