AMSTERDAM - 2019 FIH Pro League (Men) Australia v Great Britain (RR) WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK

Harry Martin believes the the GB players’ heat tolerance testing before Christmas will be crucial ahead of Tokyo 2020.

“I’m not going to lie, I can’t say I enjoyed a second of it! But there will be some tough conditions in Tokyo and everyone saw an improvement,” joked Martin.

But the testing has been a key indicator as to what the players will expect this year, after coach Danny Kerry raised concerns over player safety due to the timings of some of the games.

Temperatures could hit 40 degrees Celsius in Tokyo and GB have fixtures against Germany and Holland which both start at mid-day.

Martin and Co are currently Down Under preparing for their Pro League opener this weekend against the Kookaburras and he believes that he is ready to take on the world after being the youngest player, aged 17, at London 2012.

He said: “Ten years is pretty mad. I’ve been lucky enough to play across the world. I’ve played in Australia, Malaysia and India and I’d like to think I’ve had exposure in different countries and confident enough to play anywhere now.”

Under coach Kerry, Martin says the change of play patterns, coupled with the new players, have helped broaden the squad as they aim to break the top of the world rankings.

He said: “There is still a lot of hard work to do to break into the top three. We have finished fourth in the last couple of world level tournaments.

“You want to have depth and competing for the places and with all the stuff that has gone on, I think we are in a really good place.”

Meanwhile, GB defender Laura Unsworth says that Alex Danson-Bennett’s return to the central programme has given added impetus to the squad.

The GB and England captain has been missing in action from Bisham Abbey since September 2018 after her mild brain injury trauma and concussion.

In a hugely welcome statement earlier this month, Danson-Bennett revealed that she was rejoining the programme after being able to train for the first time.

“She has still got a few more tests to pass but she is just delighted to be surrounded by her team-mates again,” Unsworth said before GB’s departure to Brisbane. “It’s great to have her back in our environment with the experience she brings to our squad.

“I saw a stick in her hand the other day, hitting balls like she had never been away so it will be fantastic to have her back in the squad.”

GB’s trip to Brisbane turned out to be a lengthy one, lasting nearly two days after plane trouble and missed connections.

There was a bright moment on arrival for Giselle Ansley, however, after she was photographed with Australia’s cricket run machine Steve Smith. The GB squad will visit coach Mark Hager’s house on their trip and New Zealand. February will mark one year since Hager first met his players.

This article has been adapted from our January print edition. To read Harry Martin’s full interview on how he struggled to cope with Sam Ward’s injury subscribe to our digital edition for the bigger picture in 2020.

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