The Kookaburras have won the three test series against Korea in Hobart despite finishing with a 2-1 loss in the final game on Sunday. After 5-1 and 3-2 victories in the opening two games, Korea responded well to end their tour on a positive note. They are certainly a very good side and will be a force to be reckoned with at the World Cup at the end of the month.
As I mentioned in my previous post, there was a large Australian squad taken to Tasmania that included three keepers. I played the first half in game 1 and the second half in game 2, fortunately recording two clean sheets in my time on the field. Generally as a keeper in the Aussie team you only get a handful of touches each game due to the quality of the defence in front of you, so it makes every involvement you do have in the match all the more important. My favourite for the week was a save from a Korean deflection inside the final two minutes of the close win in game two. Fellow GK’s Bazeley and Burgers shared the net in game three and we all now face a week of training and intra-squad matches before we find out which two of us will be heading to India for the World Cup.
One habit that I like to follow whenever possible prior to a match is to spend some time on the field before the warm-up just visualising the game from my position. This is not always an option, particularly when playing a club game or during a tournament when the turf is being used for another game immediately prior to playing myself. However during a test series against another nation there is often time available to spend taking in some of the relevant cues from the goal, such as the impact of the sun’s glare or any potentially distracting obstacles in the background. This is particularly useful when you are playing at an unfamiliar venue, and I was caught in the act here during the Korean series in the picture I have included.
Until next time,
The Kookaburras have played their first test for 2010 in Hobart, recording a 5-1 win over Korea in match one of three this week.
Coach Ric Charlesworth brought a squad of 25 players to Tasmania for the series as he looks to finalise the 18 that will represent Australia at the World Cup in India next month. The group includes all three keepers who represented the Kookaburras in 2009, with the intention being to share the load against Korea by playing two halves each over the three games.
I was in the net for the opening whistle yesterday and was happy that we went into the half time break 1-0 up after Des Abbott put one away for Australia after 17 minutes. The crowd in Hobart was fantastic and it was a buzz as always to represent my country, but particularly enjoyable given the great reception we received in Tasmania. It was my first game in my new Green and Gold pads that OBO made up for me, and so far so good – no goals conceded!
Nathan Burgers took over in the second half and in the end we were comfortable winners, although given Korea’s habit in the recent Champions Trophy of coming back from big deficits to salvage results we were wary of their talent right until the final whistle. Games two and three will be played over the weekend, I’ll let you know how we go!
It has been a busy year for the Australian Hockey Team and it is now almost time for the biggest test of 2009 – the Champions Trophy in Melbourne. Since Ric Charlesworth took over as coach at the start of the year the Kookaburras have played 31 tests, with 23 wins, 4 draws and 4 losses. During this time 31 players have pulled on the green and gold shirt, including 14 debutants. Ric is trying to build a deep squad and this means that competition will be very intense for the final 18 that head to Champions.
Since my last post at the end of our European Tour, the team won a 3 Nations / 4 Team tournament against Malaysia, Canada and Australia A in Canberra. After that we were off to Invercargill for the all-important Oceania Cup and World Cup Qualifiers against New Zealand and Samoa. The first game was a 26-0 win against a very inexperienced but enthusiastic Samoan team, a game that will remain in my memory for that fact that neither myself nor fellow goalkeeper Nathan Burgers were in the 16 that played! Defenders Kiel Brown and Luke Doerner played a half each in the net for the first time and were certainly talking up the fact that they kept a clean sheet afterwards. Burgers and I resumed our spots in the two games against NZ, and it was a great relief when we won the final 3-1 to take our place in next year’s World Cup. I’ve attached a photo of the team after the game – I’m the one wearing the beanie (it was pretty cold in Invercargill, although none of the other boys seem to be feeling it).
More recently we took a relatively inexperienced side to KL for a 5 Test series against Malaysia, who are themselves preparing to head to Invercargill to try and win a World Cup spot ahead of New Zealand. We won the series 3-0 with two draws, and it was great to see three new faces make their mark, namely Jono Charlesworth, Matt Swann and Matt Gohdes (see photo attached). Jono is a team mate in the WA Thundersticks side and Gohdesy plays in my club team, Hale, so it was good to play a test match with both of them. Over the next couple of weeks there are three intra-squad trial games that will be the playing group’s last chance to impress selectors before the team is named for Melbourne on November 10. For the keepers it’s a case of 3 doesn’t go into 2, so Burgers, George Bazeley and I will be doing our best to earn selection in the upcoming games.
Hopefully I’ll be back soon with some good selection news in my next post!
We welcome Ross Meadows to OBO’s list of particularly amazing people.
Ross plays his club hockey for Hale Hockey Club in Western Australia and captains the SmokeFree WA Thundersticks in the Australian Hockey League.
Having recently received the call up to the Kookaburras squad for the 2009 season, Ross has the ideal opportunity to impress Australian coach Ric Charlesworth ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers in August and the 2009 Champions Trophy in Melbourne during November/ December.
What club you play for:
– Hale Hockey Club, Western Australia
– SmokeFree WA Thundersticks (Captain)
What Country you play for: Australia
– Australian Debut v Holland 2008
– AHL Championships 2008 & 2009
List of gear you use: OBO ROBO Hi Rebound pads, kickers, LHP, Hi control RHP, bodi arma, smarty pants and the all important groin guard
Best goalie memory: Being selected to play for Australia
How often do you train: Every week day
International caps: 15 (as of November 2009)
International debut: January 2008 v Holland in Busselton, WA
Any secret tips: Never dwell on the goal that you just conceded – you don’t know when the
next shot is coming
Goals in life: Represent Australia as often as possible and enjoy my hockey
The Kookaburras have concluded our nine game tour of Europe with two wins against England at Highfields in Nottingham. After playing them at the Hamburg Masters we knew to expect more tough opposition, and this certainly proved to be the case. Penalty corner scoring was the order of the day in our 5-4 win during game one, with Chris Ciriello flicking in a hat-trick and Luke Doerner adding another to his tally. Ashley Jackson netted three for England at the other end, with Australia’s Jason Wilson scoring the only field goal.
In game two we ran out 4-1 winners and gave England significantly less scoring opportunities, including only two corners for the game. They have proved that they will be difficult to beat at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne at the end of the year. Overall, the tour has been a successful one with the team establishing a 7-2 win-loss record. The two close losses to Germany in lead-up games prior to the Masters were followed up with a win during the tournament, so we return home pleased that we have managed to beat each side that we have played during the tour.
It has been great writing for OBO during the team’s travels and I look forward to contributing to the keepers resources site again in the near future.
Australia won the 2009 Hamburg Masters tournament over the weekend with wins over England and Germany in consecutive days. After defeating England 5-2 on Saturday, the game against Germany was effectively turned into the tournament final when they beat the Netherlands 5-3 in their second match. With two close losses under our belts in practice matches against the Olympic champs earlier in the week, we were very keen to make amends on a bigger stage.
We started off very well against Germany, leading 3-0 at half time. The host nation managed to pull it back to 3-2 and suddenly the tournament could have gone either way, particularly when considering the fact that Germany only needed a draw to win the trophy as they had a superior goal difference. The Kookaburras once again pulled away however, and goals to Mark Paterson (2), Luke Doerner, Simon Orchard, Eddie Ockendon and Jamie Dwyer gave us a 6-2 victory. Jamie also won the player of the tournament award to cap off a very successful day for the team.
We now head to Nottingham for the final leg of our trip and two more games against England. I am really looking forward to this part of the tour as it will be the first time I have been back to England since I played a season for Sheffield University Bankers in 2001-02. I had a wonderful time playing there and credit a significant part of my development as a player to the experiences I had in the Northern Premier League. I am particularly looking forward to seeing some of the boys I played with in the team for the first time in seven years. No doubt they will be cheering on the opposition in this instance but it will be great to catch up all the same.
Australia recorded a 3-2 win over the Netherlands in our opening game of the Hamburg Masters today. We went to the break 2-1 up after goals to Luke Doerner and Eddie Ockendon, before Luke made it 3-1 early in the second half with another penalty corner conversion. Holland hit back with a drag flick of their own with less than ten minutes remaining, but we held on for the victory. Once again George Bazeley and I played 35 minutes each in the net. In the other game, host nation Germany ran away with a 6-0 victory over England, although the scoreline does not reflect the eveness of the match for long periods. We have a rest day tomorrow then come up against England on Saturday, so it will be imortant that we are at our best as I expect them to be very keen to bounce back.
We had our first loss of the tour this week in our opening game against Germany, the defending Olympic and World Cup winners. They scored in the final minute to record a 4-3 victory after we had come back from 3-1 down to get back in the game. Luke Doerner, Simon Orchard and Jason Wilson all scored for the Kookaburras in a generally even game that could have gone either way. We get a second chance against the home nation today in our final hit-up before the Hamburg Masters, and with the addition of Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles and Des Abbott to the squad we will be looking to get even.
One of the big challenges a goalkeeper of a touring representative side can face is getting mentally and physically prepared to play the second half of a game after sitting off for the first. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the goalkeepers in the Australian team will be interchanging at half time in the majority of the matches on tour, so being ready to play after 35 minutes of spectating is very important. In the pre-game warm-up, the two keepers rotate evenly through the penalty corner attack and goal shooting practice. If I am playing the second half, as I did in the game against Germany, I will come off after the warm-up and take off my all my protective gear above the waist plus my leg guards. I generally watch from the bench for the first 15 minutes and try to pick up any information that may be useful, such as the movement of their strikers through the opposition forward line or variations in their PCA set-up.
With about 20 minutes to go I will repeat elements of my warm-up, with some run-throughs, stretching and range of movement activities. With five minutes left I get all my gear back on and then take a bag of balls out to the circle at the half time whistle for the 17th and 18th players to hit at me before coming on in the second half. It’s useful if one of those players is a drag flicker so they can be incorporated into the hit-up, but unfortunately this is not always the case.
Please excuse the lack of picture again, I am having real trouble adding images to my posts since writing from our Hamburg hotel.
PS…. Just got back from game 2 so I thought I’d quickly add in the result to this post:
We suffered another close loss to Germany today, this time going down 2-1. While both of the games we have played against the Olympic Champions are essentially warm-up fixtures prior to the Hamburg Masters, they are still test matches and any loss is disappointing. Jason Wilson converted a drag flick from a penalty corner after the final siren, but by then the result was beyond doubt. I played the first half and was happy with my performance and very encouraged by the team’s efforts even though we couldn’t quite get the result we were after.
Now that the Kookaburras have arrived in Germany, we have two tests against the host nation before the start of the Hamburg Masters tournament, which also includes England and the Netherlands. Before any international match it is important that all members of the team have done some research on their opposition to ensure we are well prepared for the challenge ahead. For the goalkeepers, that largely involves watching as many penalty corners as possible on the computer database so we can put together some ideas on the best tactics for our defensive group. Germany have a very strong penalty corner attack so any information we can gain from watching their past matches can be very valuable. We look at corners from as far back as a year ago and then present our findings to the rest of the team in our meeting before the game.
A large part of our training routine is focussed on facing penalty corner drag flicks, and yesterday’s two sessions were no exception. In the Australian team on this tour we have three very high quality flickers, namely Luke Doerner, Chris Ciriello and Jason Wilson, so there is no shortage of practice opportunities for the goalkeepers. Of course it is one thing to save a drag flick in a training situation without distractions between you and the flicker, and quite another to stop the ball in a game with defensive runners plus deflecting and rebounding strikers crossing your line of vision at regular intervals. An efficient sequence of movement becomes very important and this is something we consistently work on with goalkeeping coach David Bell at Australian Institute of Sport training sessions back in Perth.
I’ll let you know how we go against Germany!
Australia recorded a 4-1 victory in our second and final game against France to finish up 2-0 series winners. At the wonderful venue of Racing Club in Versailles, the Kookaburras extended their two goal half time lead in a greatly improved performance after game one. Chris Ciriello, Glenn Simpson, Luke Doerner and Simon Orchard all scored in a very even team performance.
George Bazeley played his first minutes of the tour in the net during the first 35 minutes, while I came on at half time to play out the rest of the game. I have included a picture of the two of us after the final whistle, in which I’m trying to show him the GK gear he should be wearing! Touring with a team is significantly more enjoyable as a goalie if you get along well with the other keeper. Luckily for us this is the case in the current Australian team, a particularly important fact when you consider that we are rooming together for the entire trip.
We now leave Paris for our next round of matches in Germany, including the Hamburg Masters tournament. The travel day is going to be an incredible experience, as we head to Villers Brettoneux and then Menin Gate; two very important locations in Australia’s history. We will spend the night in Eindhoven before continuing onto Hamburg.