Road to Paris: Kookaburras coach Colin Batch’s ominous Olympic warning as 27-player national squad unveiled

Road to Paris: Kookaburras coach Colin Batch’s ominous Olympic warning as 27-player national squad unveiled
  • PublishedDecember 6, 2023

The Kookaburras have pulled few surprises in naming a settled squad that has designs on Olympic gold but coach Colin Batch has issued an ominous warning that no spots are guaranteed for Paris.

The uncompromising mentor said he would have no qualms picking players out of the tier one national development squad if any members of his 27-player core drop the ball in the lead up to the 2024 Games as he hunts for the edge that will help the Kookaburras top their Tokyo silver medal.

SCROLL DOWN TO SEE THE FULL SQUAD

“The selection for the team to head to Paris next year is still very open,” Batch said.

“Players will need to perform consistently, both at training and in matches leading up to the Olympics, to secure their position.

Kookaburras coach Colin Batch has warned his squad to fire in an Olympic year or risk missing out. Picture: @bwmedianz

Kookaburras coach Colin Batch has warned his squad to fire in an Olympic year or risk missing out. Picture: @bwmedianz

“As we discovered this year, there is a fine line between the Kookaburras squad and the national development squad members and, if required, we will select from the tier one squad to find our best team for Paris.”

The bulk of Batch’s squad featured for the Kookaburras in some capacity throughout 2023, but he has taken note of a pair of starring performances in the recently completed national Hockey One competition.

Broad-shouldered beast Corey Weyer’s key role in Brisbane’s charge to the Hockey One title has won him a national squad reprieve, putting him in line for his first Kookaburras cap since 2020.

“Corey was a well-deserved selection … despite not being included in the squad this time last year, he has since regained enthusiasm for hockey and developed his physical capabilities to force his way back in the squad,” Batch said.

“It’s a great example of self-drive that has been rewarded with another opportunity.”

Weyer has become one of, if not the, fittest and fastest players in Australia, covering more than 8km in some Hockey One matches and firing in four goals for the Blaze, including one in the exhilarating grand final win over NSW Pride.

Combatants in the Hockey One grand final for Brisbane and NSW respectively, Corey Weyer and Ash Thomas are now national squadmates.

Combatants in the Hockey One grand final for Brisbane and NSW respectively, Corey Weyer and Ash Thomas are now national squadmates.

Pride keeper Ash Thomas was on the end of Weyer’s rocket in that game, but they will be squadmates in Perth.

“Ash comes into the squad … as the standout goalie across the past two Hockey One seasons,” Batch said.

“Following his debut earlier this year, he continues to refine and develop his performance, and therefore joins us full of confidence.”

Every state and territory, bar SA, is represented, with eight players from NSW, seven from Queensland, four from WA, three from Victoria, three from Tasmania, and one each from the NT and ACT.

The squad is bookended by record-breaking 427-cap 36-year-old Eddie Ockenden, on track to become the first Australian hockey player to appear at five Olympic Games, and 21-year-old Melbourne tyro Craig Marais, who already has 14 Kookaburras appearances and is currently in Malaysia leading the Burras’ FIH Junior World Cup charge.

Ahead of the Olympics in July-August, the Kookaburras are scheduled for FIH Pro League bouts in February (India) and May-June (Belgium and England).

ROAD TO PARIS: KOOKABURRAS 2024 SQUAD

Jacob Anderson
Jayden Atkinson
Daniel Beale
Josh Beltz
Tim Brand
Andrew Charter (GK)
James Collins
Tom Craig
Matthew Dawson
Johan Durst (GK)
Nathan Ephraums
Blake Govers
Jake Harvie
Jeremy Hayward
Tim Howard
Craig Marais
Eddie Ockenden
Flynn Ogilvie
Joel Rintala
Lachlan Sharp
Ash Thomas (GK)
Jack Welch
Corey Weyer
Jake Whetton
Tom Wickham
Ky Willott
Aran Zalewski

SOURCE: NEWS.COM

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