Next week’s four-match series against New Zealand will be the final opportunity for players in the Hockeyroos squad to prove they deserve to be in the team for the Tokyo Olympics.
The full 27-player Hockeyroos squad, which features will fly to New Zealand on Saturday for the Sentinel Homes Trans-Tasman Series against the Black Sticks, which starts on 27 May.
When the Hockeyroos run out for the first match on Thursday, 446 days will have passed since their last international hit out.
Hockeyroos Head Coach Katrina Powell said the players are itching to compete on the international stage again.
“Last year was really tough for everyone, particularly the girls who spent the majority of last year in lockdown in Victoria as they didn’t even get to play club hockey,” said Powell.
“That makes this international match piece massive. We have had a number of intra-squad matches and games against the WA Under 18 Men’s team but the group has been waiting a long time to play an international opponent. Everyone is really excited to get back into it.”
With only 16 selected in the final team for Tokyo and with just over three weeks until the Australian Olympic women’s hockey team is announced, each players’ Olympic ambitions largely hinge on the upcoming four matches.
“The athletes are really committed, determined and looking forward to showing what they can do at international level in order to put their hand up for Olympic selection,” said Powell.
“It’s really high stakes with this series being their only international match opportunity to show what they can do.
“But that’s how it is at the Olympics. You need to perform on demand and that’s what we want to see for Tokyo. This series will be a great test and the right one to face at the moment.”
“The players need to perform well for the team because that is what they will need to do if we are going to be successful in Tokyo.
The last time the Hockeyroos played against the Black Sticks was at the 2019 Oceania Cup, a tournament the Black Sticks prevailed to automatically qualify for Tokyo.
“We’re looking forward to some really tough competition and we know that is what the Black Sticks will provide,” said Powell.
“We have had some really tough battles with New Zealand over recent times, including ones that we have not come out on top of, so it’s going to be a real test of where we are at.
“That has been the other thing that has been missing. It’s not just the international competition but the opportunity to gauge how we are tracking.”
The final Hockeyroos team for the Tokyo Olympics will be announced on 14 June in Perth.
The Sentinel Homes Trans-Tasman Series will be broadcast LIVE on the Sky Sport Next YouTube Channel.