Fresh from a few days off after consecutive defeats of Great Britain and making his 200th Kookaburras appearance, Jake Whetton took away much more than just the five points from the weekend in Sydney.
“I guess if you were to take something positive out of the first game against GB, it was the ability to come back into the game after falling behind 4-2, which shows that the resilience of the group is great,” said Whetton.
“Obviously it’s something we don’t want to rely on that often but it’s nice to know we were able to get back into the game and finish it off in a shootout.”
“Game two was a much better standard that we hold ourselves too. We had a really good conversation the night after game one on what we wanted to do in game two and I thought we did this particularly well.”
“It was nice to score some field goals and get our first win of the year.”
The Kookaburras blooded a debutant in each match, rewarding Nathan Ephraums and Kurt Lovett for strong Sultana Bran Hockey One campaigns in 2019 and impressive form within the squad’s daily training environment.
“Both Kurt and Nathan held their own very respectfully and it was great to be involved in their first games for their country,” Whetton acknowledged.
“They have both worked extremely hard to get to where they are, but it only gets harder from here and I know they are up for the ride which is awesome to see.”
The Kookaburras return to training before travelling to hockey-mad India to face a home side that won their opening FIH Pro League clash against the Netherlands 5-2, before drawing their follow up clash 3-3 and claiming the penalty shootout.
FIH recently announced a new match-based world ranking system from January and India have quickly climbed to number five in the world.
Whetton says his teammates will thoroughly examine footage from India’s recent games, but he also has one eye on his flight seating for the trek over.
“I’m not too phased about who I’ll be rooming buddies with, but typically I’ll call caps on the room with a king bed and not succeed,” the diminutive midfielder jokes.
“Where I sit on the plane and who I like to sit with has changed in the last few years with the status of my Virgin Australia rewards points going up.”
“Nowadays I tend to get an exit row and sit next to Eddie O, who with all his travel back to his beloved Tasmania and hockey trips, I’m pretty sure they have given him shares in Virgin Australia!”
Speaking of the Kookaburras co-captain, Whetton believes that if the stars align for Ockenden to break Jamie Dwyer’s national games record against Argentina in Perth next month, it will be an occasion deserving a sell out crowd.
“If Ed was to break the record of Jamie Dwyer in Perth it should be a full house, not just for the hockey player Ed is but for the person he is,” said Whetton.
“He’s an unbelievable talent who has torn up the hockey scene for well over 10 years.”
“I can’t talk directly for Jamie but I’m sure if there was anyone to break his record, he would love it to be Eddie. We have become great mates over the past 10 years and he deserves everything that comes his way. He’s the epitome of what a professional athlete.”
The Kookaburras are next in FIH Pro League action in India on 22/23 February. All of the Kookaburras’ FIH Pro League matches are LIVE on Kayo and/or Fox Sports.
Story by Adam Clifford.