Kookaburras co-captain Eddie Ockenden has raved about the quality of this week’s Darwin International Hockey Open (DIHO) which he says should get supporters excited.
World number one Australia will take on 2016 Rio Olympic gold medallists Argentina (world number two) as well recent Asian Games winners Japan (16th) and runners-up Malaysia (12th).
The Kookaburras commence DIHO on Tuesday against Malaysia from 7pm (ACST)/7:30pm (AEST), preceded by Argentina-Japan from 5:15pm (ACST)/5:45pm (AEST), which gates open from 4pm (local time).
“The Argentineans are so skilful,” Ockenden said. “They’ll lift the ball and do tricks.
“The Japanese players and the Malaysians are pretty similar. They’re quick and so good with their hands and so skilful.
“It’s incredible to watch. Everyone coming down would like it as well.”
Tasmanian veteran Ockenden said each of Australia’s opponents brought something different in terms of style which would excite fans too.
“They’ve just had their Asian Games with Japan and Malaysia in the final,” he said.
“We know they’re really good teams. They play differently and different to Argentina as well.
“It’s awesome for everybody to watch four really different teams play exciting hockey.
“It’s great for us to practice against three different teams.”
DIHO is important preparation for Australia’s 2018 World Cup defence which takes place in Bhubaneswar, India in November and December.
“Having good competition is crucial,” 31-year-old Ockenden said.
“Being in Australia we’re a little bit isolated so it’s hard to get quality games consistently.
“We have to make the most of these five games in Darwin. It’s fantastic to be here to prepare for the World Cup and play some great games against some really good opposition.”
Australia handed debuts to Jacob Anderson, Josh Simmonds and Jack Welch against Argentina in Sunday’s 1-0 warm-up win at Marrara Hockey Centre.
“The three boys were really good,” Ockenden said. “They’re quite young.
“It’s very difficult coming into an international game against the second-best team in the world in your first game.
“I debuted a long time ago but I certainly wasn’t in the position to do what they’re doing nowadays.
“It’s fantastic to see them contributing really well at a young age in their first games.”
Kookaburras team for DIHO & Tests vs Argentina:
Athlete (City, State)
Jacob Anderson (Mackay, QLD)
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD)
Josh Beltz (Hobart, TAS)
Timothy Brand (Chatswood, NSW)
Andrew Charter (Canberra, ACT)
Tom Craig (Lane Cove, NSW)
Matthew Dawson (Killarney Vale, NSW)
Kieran Govers (Wollongong, NSW)
Jake Harvie (Dardanup, WA)
Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT)
Tim Howard (Wakerley, QLD)
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA)
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS)
Flynn Ogilvie (Wollongong, NSW)
Joshua Simmonds (Doncaster, VIC)
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD)
Corey Weyer (Biggera Waters, QLD)
Jack Welch (Hobart, TAS)
Dylan Wotherspoon (Murwillumbah, NSW) *Plays for QLD
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA)
Australia v Argentina Fixture (all fixtures in local time/ACST):
Sunday 16 September 7pm – Australia 1 Argentina 0
2018 DIHO Fixtures (all fixtures in local time/ACST):
Tuesday 18 September 5:15pm – Argentina v Japan
Tuesday 18 September 7pm – Australia v Malaysia
Wednesday 19 September 5:15pm – Malaysia v Japan
Wednesday 19 September 7pm – Argentina v Australia
Friday 21 September 5:15pm – Malaysia v Argentina
Friday 21 September 7pm – Australia v Japan
Saturday 22 September 5pm – 3rd Place Final
Saturday 22 September 7pm – 1st Place Final