If there was not enough motivation already, the debut of a rising star plus two significant individual player milestones adds further incentive for the Kookaburras when they take on Great Britain in the FIH Pro League at Sydney Olympic Park starting tomorrow.
Victorian 20 year old Nathan Ephraums will make his senior international debut, while midfielder Jake Whetton is set to make his 200th appearance for the Kookaburras and striker Tom Craig his 100th match.
“He’s got a little bit of an x-factor about him,” said Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch on Ephraums.
“He will bring some energy to the group. First games can go one of two ways – they can be really nervous and not play so well, but I’m sure Nathan will embrace the opportunity, play his natural game and play well for us.”
Ephraums, who comes out of the Victorian Institute of Sport hockey program, was part of the National Development Squad last year and played in the Sultana Bran Hockey One League for HC Melbourne, while he also featured for Australia A in the recent matches against Belgium A.
“Seeing my name in the striker line for tomorrow’s game was really exciting…it’s something I’ve looked forward to for a long time, so getting to make my debut will be really special,” said Ephraums.
“There will be some nerves but I think that’s only natural. I know the guys will get around me and once I have my first few touches of the game I’m confident I’ll settle in pretty well.”
“This really has been a childhood dream. I used to look up to guys like Eddie Ockenden, so to run out with them will be really special.”
On the impending milestones of Queenslander Whetton and Sydneysider Craig, Batch lauded the duo for the way they have developed their games over the journey and for the contribution they have made to the Kookaburras.
“We’ve got Nathan playing his first game and then we have a 100 and a 200 game milestone, so it rounds it off nicely,” said Batch.
“With Tom Craig, a lot of people automatically revert to his physicality, his speed and how well he gets up and down the park, but he is putting a lot more craft into his game.”
“He’s not the complete player by any means but reaching the 100 game milestone for the Kookaburras is a great effort and I know he will contribute really well for us on the weekend.”
“Jake Whetton started out as a striker and we see this in a number of players that their career evolves over a period of time, so he went from being one of the outstanding goal scorers and now he is a midfield game manager.
“There has been a lot of growth in Jake’s game, he’s a very important player for us, he loves scoring goals and while the opportunities aren’t there as much, his ability to set play up is an enormous part of what we do.”
In addition to Ephraums making his debut, Batch has also brought in forward Trent Mitton, midfielder Corey Weyer and defender Jake Harvie for tomorrow’s opening double header.
After going down in both of their opening Pro League matches against Belgium last weekend and subsequently losing their number one world ranking, the Kookaburras will be out to get back on the winner’s list against a Great Britain team they had mixed results against last year.
“Obviously we weren’t too happy about our matches last weekend against Belgium, but my feeling is we have got an even group and we want to find out where they are at,” said Batch.
“Great Britain were one of the teams that beat us last year. They played really well against us in London and they have some great attacking players and their defence is very solid, so we’ve got to find opportunities up front and defend well.”
“We will certainly be looking for an improvement.”
Tickets for the Pro League double headers against Great Britain are available now through Ticketek.
Kookaburras Team v Great Britain – FIH Pro League (1 February 2020)
|Name (Number)||Date of Birth||Hometown, State||Hockey One Team||Caps (Goals)|
|Tim Brand (29)||29/11/1998||Chatswood, NSW||NSW Pride||36 (15)|
|Andrew Charter (gk) (30)||30/03/1987||Canberra, ACT||Canberra Chill||178 (0)|
|Tom Craig (2)||3/09/1995||Lane Cove, NSW||NSW Pride||99 (28)|
|Matthew Dawson (6)||7/04/1994||Killarney Vale, NSW||NSW Pride||134 (12)|
|Nathan Ephraums (7)||9/06/1999||Keysborough, VIC||HC Melbourne||–|
|Jake Harvie (4)||5/03/1998||Dardanup, WA||Perth Thundersticks||64 (3)|
|Jeremy Hayward (32)||3/03/1993||Darwin, NT||Tassie Tigers||151 (64)|
|Tim Howard (16)||23/06/1996||Wakerley, QLD||Brisbane Blaze||56 (1)|
|Tyler Lovell (gk) (24)||23/05/1987||Perth, WA||Perth Thundersticks||142 (0)|
|Trent Mitton (25)||26/11/1990||Perth, WA||Perth Thundersticks||168 (75)|
|Eddie Ockenden (11)||3/04/1987||Hobart, TAS||Tassie Tigers||360 (70)|
|Flynn Ogilvie (22)||17/09/1993||Wollongong, NSW||NSW Pride||105 (21)|
|Lachlan Sharp (1)||2/07/1997||Lithgow, NSW||NSW Pride||44 (9)|
|Matthew Swann (20)||16/05/1989||Mackay, QLD||Brisbane Blaze||200 (7)|
|Corey Weyer (3)||28/03/1996||Biggera Waters, QLD||Brisbane Blaze||38 (3)|
|Jacob Whetton (12)||16/06/1991||Brisbane, QLD||Brisbane Blaze||199 (64)|
|Tom Wickham (5)||26/05/1990||Morgan, SA||Perth Thundersticks||50 (20)|
|Aran Zalewski (17)||21/03/1991||Margaret River, WA||Perth Thundersticks||185 (23)|
Kookaburras v Great Britain – Overall Record
Played 62; Won 38, Drawn 16, Lost 8
FIH Pro League 2020 matches – Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre
Saturday 25 January
Kookaburras 2 (Hayward 49’, Craig 51’)
Belgium 2 (Briels 18’, Denayer 59’)
Belgium wins 4-2 on penalties
Sunday 26 January
Kookaburras 2 (Sharp 42’, Hayward 60’)
Belgium 4 (Hendrickx 13’/25’, Plennevaux 56’, Stockbroekx 58’)
Saturday 1 February
Kookaburras v Great Britain (4:00pm local)
Sunday 2 February
Kookaburras v Great Britain (3:00pm local)
Click here for a full list of the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras FIH Pro League 2020 fixtures.