The Hockeyroos’ run of five games in 21 days commences on Sunday (6pm AEST) when they face world number 10 China in Changzhou in the FIH Pro League.
Australia flew to China on Tuesday and will journey to Europe for four more matches following Sunday’s clash which could set the Hockeyroos up for a top four berth.
The Hockeyroos currently sit third on the women’s FIH Pro League standings with 21 points from 11 matches and a points percentage of 63.6.
Fourth-placed Belgium and fifth-placed Germany are breathing down their necks for finals spots, meaning Sunday’s clash against the Chinese, who are eighth on the standings and out of finals calculations, takes on extra importance.
Australia defeated China 4-3 in a seesawing clash in Hobart earlier in the FIH Pro League while both sides drew 0-0 in their last meeting in Changzhou at last year’s Champions Trophy.
Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin said: “The Chinese are always a tough opponent and we’re expecting a good test in Changzhou.
“China may be eighth in the standings but they’ve been very tough to beat in home conditions during the FIH Pro League and we experienced that at last year’s Champions Trophy.”
Last year’s three-week stay in China for the Champions Trophy will also hold the Hockeyroos in good stead, before they move on to Europe for matches against Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands in quick succession, plus potentially two finals.
“The matches come a little bit quicker than what we had in the Pacific leg but we’ll still get some time to prepare for each match. That’ll be interesting,” Gaudoin said.
Jodie Kenny, Georgina Morgan and Mariah Williams will not be part of the side to face China from the 20-member team named on Tuesday.
Belgium and Great Britain were also due to meet in Antwerp on Thursday 30 May, which will help shape the finals calculations.
There will be numerous other women’s FIH Pro League fixtures over the weekend, ensuring the Hockeyroos’ finals scenario will become clearer.