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Australia: Consistency the key for Batch in Kookaburras’ Oceania Cup team

Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch has announced the team that will attempt to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games when they take on New Zealand in the Oceania Cup next month in Whangarei.

The 18-player team is headlined by Australian games-record holder Eddie Ockenden for the three-match series against the Black Sticks that will take place from 10-13 August.

The winner of the Oceania Cup will automatically book their spot in Paris, while the losers must play off in a final qualification tournament in early 2024 for a second chance to qualify.

Amid preparations in Perth, Batch said a major focus on the team selected was producing a consistency of excellence and performance, something the Kookaburras struggled to do in the FIH Pro League.

“First and foremost, we have selected a team that we believe can beat New Zealand. We are hoping the guys show the consistency that we need to perform over the three-match series,” said Batch.

“We have lacked consistency throughout the year and I believe the team we have selected can show that consistency at the Oceania Cup.

“We have had a lot of changes since the World Cup early in the year and given opportunities to a number of players.

“Apart from a few injuries we have a deep list to choose from and this is our best team that we have available.”

Flynn Ogilvie is one notable inclusion in the team. The skilful midfielder who is one game shy of playing his 150th international has not played for the Kookaburras since the World Cup due to work commitments.

“We are pleased to have Flynn back in the group…he is a quality player,” said Batch.

“Flynn started a new career and was required to do a substantial amount of training, meaning it was important that he was available full time with work.

“Unfortunately hockey had to take a back seat for a while. He’s now in a position where he can devote more time to his hockey. He has been training for a long time and playing in the local Perth competition, so he will be ready to go.”

Fellow midfielder Aran Zalewski has also been named. ‘Moose’ missed the Kookaburras’ European tour after recently becoming a father.

Tasmanian Josh Beltz is set to reach the 100 game milestone in the first match of the series.

Heading into their most important matches of the year, Batch said the Kookaburras would be primed and ready to bring their best come the opening match on August 10.

“We have been talking about the importance of the Oceania Cup ever since we finished the World Cup,” said Batch.

“The guys are aware of how important it is. We just need to go out there and perform. We have spoken a lot about the areas we have performed well in this year but also the areas that need attention, so we believe have a good focus leading into this.

“We will top up our preparation over the coming weeks before we head to New Zealand, so I’m confident we can play well.”

The last time the Oceania Cup was held was in September 2019 in Rockhampton, where the Kookaburras won the series 2-0.

The Oceania Cup will be shown LIVE and free on 7plus.

2023 Oceania Cup – New Zealand v Australia
Whangarei, New Zealand
10-13 August 2023
Broadcast: LIVE and free on 7plus

Women’s Series
Men’s Series

Match Schedule
Thursday 10 August
3:05pm AEST (5:05pm local) Black Sticks Women v Hockeyroos
5:05pm AEST (7:05pm local) Black Sticks Men v Kookaburras

Saturday 12 August
12:05pm AEST (2:05pm local) Black Sticks Men v Kookaburras
2:05pm AEST (4:05pm local) Black Sticks Women v Hockeyroos

Sunday 13 August
12:05pm AEST (2:05pm local) Black Sticks Men v Kookaburras
2:05pm AEST (4:05pm local) Black Sticks Women v Hockeyroos

Australia Hockey

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