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Kookaburras want to fly to Rio via Melbourne

30 November 2012

HOCKEY: For ten members of the Australian hockey team at the Champions Trophy starting tomorrow in Melbourne it’s all about a fresh start.

But for the other eight members of this week’s line up who weren’t in London, it’s all about cementing their spot in the national team for the road to Rio.

All 18 men who don the national colours share one vision, to win a record breaking fifth straight Champions Trophy title.

Much of the discussion this week has been about the hurt of the Olympic semi final loss to Germany. However they’ve watched the game in a painful review and resolved to draw a line in the sand.

“For this group of athletes its saying I want to be in the national team, I want to be very good,” head coach Ric Charlesworth said.

“We’ve got a good squad of quality players and I want them to contest very fiercely for spots in the team so they can be on the podium at the world cup, the Commonwealth Games and the next Olympics.”

Star striker Eddie Ockenden has been part of all four Champions Trophy wins and like all the London bronze medallists he is looking out the windscreen not the rear vision mirror.

"We've had a really good two or three days training in Melbourne, getting our game shape together, the boys are all in good spirits and looking forward to tomorrow," the Tasmanian said.

"I think we have some new exciting strikers in the team who have a little bit of experience, but going into their first major tournament. Someone like Jacob Whetton will be really exciting and hopefully the crowd get behind him."

One area the coaching staff will have a keen eye on is the goal keepers following the retirement of London keeper Nathan Burgers. Victorian George Bazeley played in the tournament in Melbourne in 2009, but missed Games selection, whilst London back-up goalie Andrew Charter will be fighting for the number one spot.

It’s an area Charlesworth believes has room for improvement.

“It’s an area I don’t think we’ve been world’s best and it’s certainly an area where we need to pay attention. If you look at the Olympics we had 28 shots on our goal during the tournament and Germany had 51 for almost the same number of goals against so that tells a story.”

Each day of play features every one of the eight teams in action, with the opening day tomorrow featuring Australia taking on Belgium, Olympic champions Germany up against New Zealand, England versus India and London silver medallists Netherlands taking on Pakistan in the opening match.

Charlesworth says his team will need to be wary of the rising Belgians.

“This group of players fancy themselves and our guys need to be ready for that. They’re coming and they’ve been coming for a while now.”

“They’re a team that’s growing in stature, who are getting better and better.  Their ranking has been rising and they have a very good young group of players who have done well in Europe. In fact they’ve won in Europe at junior level a couple of times.”

Ockenden said the nature of the Champions Trophy is that all eight teams are capable of success.

"I think Belgium has really improved over the last couple of years, they had a really good Olympics, it really has been a general progression."

"This is their first Champions Trophy in a while and they will be really excited for it, so for us it's going to be a really hard challenge first up and I think that's good for us."

"Germany has a young team but has such a good core game which makes it really difficult to score against. They are one of the better teams here and will be strong."

"The Dutch are always tough at international tournaments and have such a long successful history and will be one of the stronger teams."

"You never know what you are going to expect against India or Pakistan. We lost to Pakistan recently and if they turn up on the day and play their best they are difficult for any team."

"Pakistan is in our pool, so will have to watch out for them."

The key weekend sessions are live on ABC1 and tickets are still available for each day of play at the State Netball Hockey Centre.

For more information visit www.hockey.org.au/ct2012

Hockey Australia

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