Hockey Australia today confirms Eddie Ockenden and Aran Zalewski have been appointed as Kookaburras’ co-captions for the upcoming 2018 Champions Trophy in Breda, the Netherlands.
The Kookaburras’ captaincy role is vacant after the retirement of Mark Knowles following Australia’s triumphant 2018 Commonwealth Games campaign.
Kookaburras coach Colin Batch said the co-captaincy would be temporarily used, with a view to a permanent single appointment for the 2018 World Cup in India in November and December.
“We’ve had a great captain in Mark and while we’ve used some players in interim leadership roles, it’s different as the permanent captain,” Batch said.
“We want to trial the two guys and get a better feel of how they’ll handle the captaincy. We want them to be their own person, perform and play as well as they can while being the leader.”
Ockenden and Zalewski will alternate as captain each game during the Champions Trophy and September’s Darwin International Hockey Open.
Tasmanian Ockenden, 31, is currently the fourth most capped Kookaburras’ player with 319 appearances and 68 goals, having debuted in 2006.
He is a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medal winner and two-time Olympic bronze medal winner.
Zalewski, who hails from Margaret River in WA’s South-West, is set to bring up his 150th cap for Australia during the Champions Trophy, currently sitting on 144 caps.
The midfielder debuted in 2011 and is a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and was part of the 2016 Rio Olympics side.
Batch said the pair were the standout options for the full-time captaincy.
“Eddie is a very experienced player and has had experience as a co-captain before,” Batch said.
“He’s got a new challenge in front of him, playing as a defender which I think has given him a new lease of life and he seems to be relishing that role.
“Aran is tactically really smart with a key role in the middle of the pitch.
“He’s a real driver in the way we train and the way we’re developing as a team. He has great credentials in the leadership capacity as well.”
The 2018 Champions Trophy runs from 23 June to 1 July with Australia’s first match against Belgium from 2am AEST on Sunday 24 June.
The world number one Kookaburras, who are 14-time Champions Trophy winners and defending champions, will come up against the Netherlands (ranked fourth), Argentina (2016 Olympic gold medallists and ranked second), Belgium (ranked third), India (ranked sixth) and Pakistan (ranked 13th).
Champions Trophy Match Schedule (all times AEST):
Sunday 24 June 2am – Australia vs Belgium
Monday 25 June 12am – Australia vs Pakistan
Wednesday 27 June 11pm – Australia vs India
Friday 29 June 3:30am – Australia vs Netherlands
Saturday 30 June 9:45pm – Australia vs Argentina
Sunday 1 July TBC – Finals
Kookaburras team for Champions Trophy:
Athlete (City, State)
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD)
Timothy Brand (Chatswood, NSW)
Tom Craig (Lane Cove, NSW)
Johan Durst (Melbourne, VIC)
Jeremy Edwards (Hobart, TAS)
Blake Govers (Wollongong, NSW)
Jake Harvie (Dardanup, WA)
Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT)
Tim Howard (Wakerley, QLD)
Aaron Kleinschmidt (Melbourne, VIC)
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA)
Trent Mitton (Perth, WA)
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) (cc)
Flynn Ogilvie (Wollongong, NSW)
Lachlan Sharp (Lithgow, NSW)
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD)
Jacob Whetton (Brisbane, QLD)
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) (cc)