Author: Nic Kerber
The return of some familiar faces and the inclusion of two rising stars highlight the announcement of the 2020 Hockeyroos squad.
The new additions include capped Hockeyroos Laura Barden, Kate Jenner and Gabi Nance, young gun Amy Lawton who has been elevated to a permanent spot in the 27-player squad, while uncapped 20 year old Karri Somerville has received her first senior call up. All except for Barden were members of this year’s National Development squad.
The squad selected by Head Coach Paul Gaudoin was based on a range of factors underpinned by having personnel who will provide the Hockeyroos with the best chance of success in what is a huge year, beginning with the FIH Pro League in late January and leading into Tokyo 2020 in late July.
“Whether it has been VAA (Visiting Athlete Agreement) opportunities, performances in the DTE (Daily Training Environment) and in international matches, form in the Sultana Bran Hockey One League, as well as the history of some of the girls, all of these factors have been taken into account,” said Gaudoin.
“It’s a very balanced squad. We’ve included some experience and some quality…of course it’s disappointing to lose girls out of the squad but it’s a part of evolving the Hockeyroos.
“I think the notable thing about seeing players who have come back into the squad after being part of the Hockeyroos before is that you can come back in, learn and develop and still get an opportunity.
“Certainly the efforts of Laura, Gabi and Kate have proven that if you work hard enough and you’re consistent in your desires and training programs, you can get that opportunity.
“Performance on the field is extremely important, as is performance off the field, and we need girls who are going to set the standards high in how they go about it on and off the field, and I’m confident the five girls who have been added will do an excellent job of that.”
Barden, Jenner and Nance combined have made over 230 appearances for the Hockeyroos, the latter two having both competed at an Olympic Games.
Jenner most recently played every match for the Hockeyroos at the Tokyo Test Event back in August, while she also featured in FIH Pro League matches against USA and Argentina.
Barden’s last Hockeyroos appearance came against Spain in January 2018, while Nance last wore the green and gold in Australia’s 2018 Commonwealth Games campaign.
The trio impressed during the Sultana Bran Hockey One League and Gaudoin says they each deserve their spots in the squad.
“Laura was a constant in HC Melbourne’s midfield during the Hockey One League and to be part of a team that finished on top of the ladder at the end of the regular season, she has shown she can be a consistent performer and a consistent contributor,” said Gaudoin.
“She’s got good ball skills, she sees the game really well, she has got great aerobic capacity and she has shown to be a very good team person.”
After spending a season playing in The Netherlands, Nance returned to play for the Adelaide Fire in the Sultana Bran Hockey One League.
“Gabi certainly showed an interest in coming back and getting involved and that hasn’t just happened overnight,” said Gaudoin.
“We’ve been in contact and she has shown an eagerness to get back into the squad through her commitment to her training programs with the South Australian Sports Institute.
“She’s also been playing in Europe in the top club league in the world and that certainly hasn’t hurt her…it has helped her develop her game.
“She’s a quick forward who’s extremely fit and has had experience at the Olympic Games before, so it’s pleasing to see her back.”
“Kate has performed well for the national team when called upon,” said Gaudoin on Jenner.
“She came into the development squad last year after a very good Australian Hockey League campaign. She was really keen and has reignited her passion for the game.
“She had some opportunities in Perth with our program and showed that she can still cut it at this level. We took her away and she was able to play in some matches for us in America and Argentina where she performed really well and also in Tokyo.
Victorian 17 year old Lawton made her Hockeyroos debut in the Pro League against New Zealand, played in the Tokyo Test Event and since then has not looked back having been part of the Hockeyroos team for the Oceania Cup and recent Olympic qualifying series win over Russia.
“Amy is a quality player and has come into our group seamlessly and has performed extremely well when she’s played for Australia,” said Gaudoin.
“She has backed up the form that she’s shown in training and in VAA opportunities and it’s pleasing to have her in the squad.”
Somerville’s rise comes off the back of an impressive Sultana Bran Hockey One season with the Perth Thundersticks, her performances doing more than enough to capture the eyes of the national selectors.
“Karri had an excellent Hockey One season. She played at half back and was very dynamic getting up and back down the pitch,” said Gaudoin.
“She’s a tall, mobile defender who is pretty quick off the mark and having someone with a bit of speed in our defensive group is going to be handy.
“She’s also got a developing drag flick and it’s pleasing to see that you can go from being a youthful player to a more experienced player and have the opportunity to come into the squad.”
While the players that made the squad will be delighted with their selections to put themselves in Olympic contention, Gaudoin reinforced the importance of every individual buying into the process and the cause from the outset.
“The coaching staff and the players know the work is in front of us and that this is just the beginning. Whilst it’s great to be in the squad, the work starts now,” said Gaudoin.
“We’ve got an induction in early December which is where we will set the scene for what will be an exciting year and one that will be filled with hard work, dedication and also some blood, sweat and tears in order to achieve our goals at the end of it.”
The Hockeyroos’ next official international is on 25 January 2020 in Sydney against Belgium in their opening match of the FIH Pro League 2020. Tickets are available through Ticketek.