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    Australia A team to play matches against Belgium A in Sydney

    An Australia A team comprising a number of Kookaburras together with selected players from the National Development Squad (NDS) will take on Belgium A in four matches in Sydney beginning on Tuesday 21 January 2020.

    To be coached by former Kookaburra and current Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) Head of Men’s Hockey Jay Stacy, the 14 players picked from the NDS will be joined by players from the Kookaburras squad who are not selected for the FIH Pro League matches against Belgium.

    The team will come together for four matches against a corresponding Belgian team who are sending 36 players (comprising their senior national squad the Red Lions and 13 from their development squad) to Australia ahead of the Pro League matches on 25/26 January.

    “These matches are a great and rare opportunity for the development players selected to test themselves against quality European competition,” said Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch.

    “For the Kookaburras players who do not get selected for the Pro League matches, it provides them with some valuable game time in the early part of what is going to be a massive year.”

    Of the NDS players selected, Jack Hayes and Ben Staines both played in the recent Open Division Final of the Australian Indoor Hockey Festival in Wollongong, while all of the players featured prominently for their respective teams in the inaugural Sultana Bran Hockey One season.

    “The depth of Australian hockey at the moment – we have a number of players who can fill 18 spots and it’s very competitive and very healthy for the squad moving forward,” said Stacy.

    “I’m sure the Kookaburras players coming into this squad will be really determined to show their wares and show the selectors for the following weekend and the rest of the Pro League that they are ready to go and are in good form.”

    “For the guys in the Development Squad, it is great experience for them to get a close up look and see what skills and attributes these Kookaburras players have in their game in order to make the next step.”

    While these will be key objectives for the players going into the matches, Stacy reiterated the team’s ultimate aim is what every team goes into a match to achieve.

    “My expectations are that we’re going into it to win four matches,” said Stacy.

    “But we also want to make it an enjoyable experience. It is an early start to what is a long year for the athletes, so we’ve got to be conscious of that and about going too hard too early for the year.

    “These important opportunities don’t come around at the senior level all that often, so we want to give them the opportunity to perform well against really good opposition in a pressure situation.

    “These development players are knocking on the door for post Tokyo 2020 and they want to be putting their hand up for the first squad that is selected post Tokyo.”

    Stacy, who took charge of an Australia A team back in 2012 in the lead up to the London Olympics, is excited about the opportunity to be part of the concept again.

    “I have been involved with VIS and the Development Program for 10 years so it’s exciting to be given the opportunity to coach this group and hopefully together with (Assistant Coaches) Andrew (McDonald) and Ben (Bishop) we can impart some of our knowledge,” said Stacy.

    “We don’t get these chances very often as players or as coaches. To have the opportunity to lead a full coaching staff at international level, put together a game plan and try and win some matches is a nice challenge. I’m also really excited to work with the best up and coming athletes in the country.”

    The team will assemble in Sydney on Saturday ahead of the first match on Tuesday at Sutherland Hockey Club. The remaining three matches will be played at the Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre.

    The general public is welcome to attend the matches free of charge, however for the matches on 25/26 January, patrons will need to vacate the stadium at the conclusion as the venue goes into lockdown prior to gates opening for the FIH Pro League matches.

    Australia A Team – National Development Squad players

    Name Date of Birth Hometown, State Hockey One Team
    Kiran Arunasalam 1-Jun-1995 Melbourne, VIC HC Melbourne
    Hayden Beltz 8-Sep-1997 Hobart, TAS Tassie Tigers
    Lachlan Busiko 13-Jan-1998 Naracoorte, SA Adelaide Fire
    James Day 26-Jun-1994 Canberra, ACT Canberra Chill
    Jack Hayes 30-Mar-1994 Albion Park, NSW NSW Pride
    Max Hendry 16-Jan-1998 Melbourne, VIC HC Melbourne
    Dylan Martin 12-Jan-1998 Wagga Wagga, NSW NSW Pride
    Hugh Pembroke 10-Jul-1994 Burbank, QLD Brisbane Blaze
    Jayshaan Randhawa 28-Oct-1993 Melbourne, VIC HC Melbourne
    Joel Rintala 24-Jul-1996 Townsville, QLD Brisbane Blaze
    Jake Sherren 10-Dec-1993 Melbourne, VIC HC Melbourne
    Ben Staines 13-Jul-1997 Canberra, ACT Canberra Chill
    Ash Thomas (gk) 21-Jul-1995 Baulkam Hills, NSW NSW Pride
    Blake Wotherspoon 20-Feb-1997 Murwillumbah, QLD Brisbane Blaze

    Coaching Staff
    Head Coach – Jay Stacy
    Assistant Coach – Andrew McDonald
    Assistant Coach – Ben Bishop

    Australia A v Belgium A – Match Details
    Tuesday 21 January 2020
    Sutherland Hockey Club
    Start Time: 5.30pm AEDT

    Thursday 23 January 2020
    Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre
    Start Time: 7pm AEDT

    Saturday 25 January 2020
    Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre
    Start Time: 11am AEDT

    Sunday 26 January 2020
    Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre
    Start Time: 10am AEDT