Three debutants and the return of a burgeoning young star in the selection of this year’s Hockeyroos squad heralds an exciting new chapter for Australia’s national women’s hockey team with a strong focus towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Queenslander Claire Colwill, 18, South Australian defender Hattie Shand and lively Western Australian attacker Shanea Tonkin are new additions in a 22-player Hockeyroos squad for 2022 announced by coach Katrina Powell.
The trio are among six players together with Courtney Schonell, Meg Pearce and goalkeeper Aleisha Power to be selected who have less than five international matches of experience.
The other ‘new’ addition is Queensland forward Rebecca Greiner, who finds herself back in the national squad after making 17 appearances across 2018 and 2019.
“Claire (Colwill) is talented with real potential and comes out of our national junior program,” said Powell.
“She has great skill and awareness and makes it look like she always has a lot of time in possession, so I’m keen to see how she progresses with the capability to realise this potential.”
“Hattie is a highly competitive and skilful defender who has great physical capability.”
“Shanea has been in our national development squad and made real progress in terms of her physicality. She has great speed and skill so we are keen to see what she can do.”
“Finally, with Bec Greiner I am really pleased to see her doing well and back in the squad. She has gone away and really worked hard on her skills and physicality.”
Following a string of recent veteran Hockeyroo retirements, this year’s squad highlights a rejuvenation and a focus on youth with the new additions joining a core group who were in the program as the Hockeyroos won all five of their Preliminary Stage matches at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
With a World Cup coming up in July closely followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Powell says it is an ideal time to start blooding the next generation as attention turns to Paris and the longer vision of a home Olympics in Brisbane in 2032.
“I’m really excited about the future of this group,” said Powell.
“It has retained a lot of talent that saw us perform well in Tokyo, but I think the addition of the four new players will help us solidify that and put our hand up for a medal in Paris.”
“The experience piece is an important one. You want to go into an Olympic Games as an experienced group so that’s why we have made some of these changes to the squad now.”
“Looking to the future in Paris and beyond, it’s important to expose these players to big matches we have this year with the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. Having them experience and learn from these major tournaments this year is critical.”
In only selecting a squad of 22 athletes due to the reduction in funding, Powell emphasised players from outside the squad remained well in the picture to represent the Hockeyroos.
“Strategically we will be working a lot more closely with our pathway programs to ensure we are continuing to develop athletes that can push for selection,” said Powell.
“We need to ensure we also develop the depth and talent in the Pathway by providing the right opportunities for players beyond the 22 announced today.
“This will ensure we are selecting the best players to play for Australia when the time comes.”