Kookaburras primed for Bendigo battle

Kookaburras' squad members Casey Hammond and Daniel Beale in Bendigo for the two-Test series against India. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Kookaburras' squad members Casey Hammond and Daniel Beale in Bendigo for the two-Test series against India. Picture: DARREN HOWE

The new-look Australian men’s hockey squad will be out to continue its good form when it plays India in a two-test series in Bendigo this week.

The Kookaburras arrived in Bendigo on Monday to prepare for the matches against their old foe on Tuesday and Wednesday evening.

“Most of our players come from the country originally, so they enjoy getting back to country areas to play,’’ Kookaburras coach Paul Gaudion said.

“A lot of them will feel as though they’re playing at home.”

After losing in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics, the Kookaburras used the recent Trans-Tasman series against New Zealand and last week’s four-nation International Festival of Hockey series in Melbourne as an opportunity to blood some fresh faces.

That trend will continue in Bendigo.

“The last few weeks have been about exposing some players to international hockey,’’ Gaudion said.

“The results aren’t important to us, it’s all about developing the young players and giving players who missed out on selection (for Rio) a chance.

“We’re not sure how long some of our senior players are going to go on for, so this is all about improving the depth of the squad. The results are showing that the pathway systems in Australian hockey are working.”

The Kookaburras defeated New Zealand 3-1 in the International Festival of Hockey  final.

 They scored a hard-fought 3-2 win against India in Melbourne as part of the festival.

Gaudion was expecting two more fierce encounters against the highly-skilled Indians in Bendigo.

“The way they (India) play hockey and the way we play hockey, it’s not passive,’’ Gaudion said.

“The public should get a couple of exciting matches. You’ll see some of the best skills in the world on display.”

Tuesday and Wednesday night’s matches both start at 6.30pm at the Ashley Street complex. Tickets are available for both games through TicketMaster.

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