Australia coach Paul Gaudoin says the Hockeyroos are excited about the new FIH Pro League which launches this month, identifying the unique thrill of big one-off matches.
The Pro League commences on Saturday 19 January when Spain hosts Belgium in the men’s competition, before Australia’s campaign gets underway in Melbourne against the Netherlands on Saturday 2 February.
The third-ranked Hockeyroos will be out for revenge against world number one Netherlands, after their Champions Trophy final defeat in November and World Cup semi-final loss in August.
The new FIH Pro League sees nine of the world’s best teams face off in the world’s first global home-and-away sporting league.
The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos will play eight matches each in Melbourne, Hobart, Perth and Sydney in February and March, before overseas matches all over the globe in April-June, before the finals in the Netherlands in late June. All matches will be broadcast on FOX SPORTS in Australia.
The FIH Pro League has effectively replaced the Champions Trophy and World League as an entertainment product which will provide – for the first time ever – a regular calendar of must-see events played in packed stadia across the world and throughout the year.
“It’s an exciting time with Pro League,” Gaudoin said.
“We’re not too sure what’s going to happen.
“We know it’s exciting. We’re looking forward to these big one-off matches, starting in Melbourne against Holland.
“We’re really excited about that and the one-off opportunities and the home-and-away series which is quite different to what we’re used to with championship formats.”
Gaudoin’s Hockeyroos rose from fifth to third in the world during 2018, but finishing as runners-up at both the Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy and fourth at the World Cup.
He said taking on the world’s best teams regularly would hold them in good stead ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with the dream of gold.
“We want to play the best teams in the world to gauge where we’re at,” the former Kookaburras said.
“You don’t get any better than Holland (to start), so we know more matches against quality teams is what we need in our preparation towards Tokyo.”
The 2019 calendar year will also see the Hockeyroos aim to secure 2020 Olympic qualification at the Oceania Cup which will take place in September in Rockhampton.
If Australia fail to win the Oceania Cup, there will be Olympic qualifiers in late October and early November.
The Hockeyroos return to training on Monday 14 January following their end-of-season break.