Victorian forward Aaron Kleinschmidt says the Kookaburras have revenge on their minds ahead of this weekend’s opening FIH Pro League matches against the Netherlands and Belgium in Melbourne.
Australia will play the Dutch and Belgium on Saturday and Sunday from 3pm at Melbourne’s State Netball and Hockey Centre in their opening games of the new league.
The Kookaburras went down on penalties to the Netherlands after a 2-2 draw in December’s World Cup semi-finals, before Belgium lifted the title.
With that defeat in mind, Kleinschmidt said Australia had something extra to prove on a weekend where the world’s top three men’s hockey teams face off.
“Playing against the European teams in Australia is really good, especially the number one and number three,” Kleinschmidt said.
“There’s a little bit of revenge on the table to beat the Dutch.
“And it’s always good to beat the Belgians as well given they’re the World Cup champions. We’d like to take them down a level.”
Kleinschmidt was born in Queensland but grew up in Melbourne and implored the local supporters to get behind the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos with projections of a near sell-out crowd for both days.
“We want to see as many fans as possible,” Kleinschmidt said. “We want them as loud as possible.
“It’s going to be two cracking days weather-wise and top three teams in the world, it doesn’t get any better.
“This is as good a chance as ever to watch top hockey.”
He added: “Playing in front of your home crowd is something that people talk about a lot and talk it up. It’s really hard to describe. It’s a fantastic feeling.
“You know a lot of people in the crowd, they get behind you. Luckily enough I’ve played fairly well in front of my crowd so hopefully we can do that again.”
This weekend’s matches mark Australia’s first foray into the FIH Pro League which commenced in Spain in mid-January, with games already played in Argentina and New Zealand.
The competition is a world-first global league where the world’s best international teams face off on a weekly home-and-away basis, with matches televised on FOX SPORTS and kayosports.com.au.
Fifteen matches will be played in Melbourne, Hobart, Perth and Sydney in February and March, before the Australian sides head overseas to play in Asia, the Americas and Europe during April to June.
“I’m really excited. I think it’s such a good idea,” he said.
“All the good teams get to play each other each year. They get to come to Australia and play us and we go overseas to play them.
“All the games so far have been really high scoring which I love. I think Hockey people like to watch that. We’re hoping to bring something similar, fast-paced high scoring game.”