Perth, Oct 4 (IANS) Hockey Australia on Wednesday announced an 18-member team for the Oceania Cup to be played at Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre from October 11-15.
Australia will take on eighth-ranked New Zealand and 61st-ranked Papua New Guinea in the biennial event where the Kookaburras have won all previous nine editions.
Australia last played at the FIH World League Semi-Final in South Africa in July where Australia finished in third place.
Coach Colin Batch said in a release: “We’re really pleased to have the Australian Hockey League (AHL) as a final series of matches to select our team from.
“It was an opportune time to assess the players and we’ve selected quite a talented team for Oceania Cup.
“We have had some separation over the past month and it will be important for staff and players to reconnect with each other after playing for their states at AHL.
“We have made good progress this year in a number of areas and we need to focus and continue to development these areas during this series.”
Young forward Blake Govers returns to the team for the first time since the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Experienced Tasmanian Eddie Ockenden is back after being a late withdrawal for the World League Semi-Final along with goalkeeper Tristan Clemons, Ben Craig and Josh Beltz.
“Blake comes back in after a good training block, so we are interested in his performance as a striker,” Batch said. “He’ll also strengthen our penalty corner flicking.
“Eddie Ockenden, Tristan Clemons, Ben Craig and Josh Beltz come in and I’m pleased to have them back.”
Australia currently sit second on the FIH World Rankings and Batch is eager to maintain the side’s grip on the spot, with rankings points up for grabs during the Oceania Cup.
The two nations also have a fierce rivalry with Australia winning their last encounter 2-1 at the World League Semi-Finals having also played at the 2016 Rio Olympics where the Kookaburras triumphed again 2-1. The two sides also drew 1-1 at the Azlan Shah Cup in April.