Revenge is on the minds for both the Hockeyroos and the Kookaburras when they play the Netherlands in their first-ever FIH Pro League matches in Melbourne on Saturday.
Tickets have sold out for Saturday’s ground-breaking matches, with a crowd of almost 5,000 expected to witness a repeat of last year’s women’s and men’s World Cup semi-finals.
The Hockeyroos and the Kookaburras both came from behind before losing to the Dutch on penalties at last year’s World Cups, while the Netherlands also beat Australia in November’s Women’s Champions Trophy final.
The world number one Dutch women represent a major test first-up for the Hockeyroos who are determined to end their recent losing run against the Netherlands.
Hockeyroos goalkeeper Rachael Lynch said: “Obviously we’ve had a bit of time over the summer to invest in our fitness. The girls have been working really hard.
“We’re going to try some new things. Any match-up against the Dutch is tough.
“We’re up for that and it’s a great way to start this new tournament.”
Kookaburras co-captain Aran Zalewski also said his side were eager to bounce back against the world number three Dutch, who beat them in December’s World Cup semis.
Australia had trailed 2-0 at half-time in the semi-final before fighting back with Eddie Ockenden equalising with less than 30 seconds to play, only to lose in a shootout.
Zalewski said the expectant raucous home crowd could play a big factor as they chase revenge.
“Hopefully the crowd can get us over the line,” Zalewski said.
“We couldn’t quite get there at the World Cup which was disappointing.
“We’ll be trying to come out to rectify that here in Melbourne.”
Zalewski added: “Coming out here to Melbourne it’s beautiful weather, we’re playing against the two other best teams in the world.
“We’re hoping for a really great hit-out. We’re expecting great crowds.
“Some of the fixtures have been really exciting with lots of goals scored and we’re hoping to provide the same for the people who come out on the weekend.”
Lynch, who hails from Melbourne, was excited about the atmosphere over the weekend.
“I believe there’s going to be some good crowds,” Lynch said.
“We’re pumped to give the competition a go. It’s tough opposition first up, but that should be good.
“This is our opportunity to showcase Melbourne. Being from Melbourne, I’m proud that the matches have almost sold out. We want to show the Dutchies we’re well supported too.”
Hockeyroos legend and current Dutch women’s coach Alyson Annan revealed she had brought a different side to the one which beat Australia at last year’s World Cup and Champions Trophy.
“We’ve got a totally different team than we did in November in China,” she said.
“It’ll be interesting to see how our younger players match up against Australia.
“In New Zealand they did okay. Australia is another step up. It’ll be good to play in front of my home crowd.”
Saturday 2 February 2019 – State Netball & Hockey Centre, Melbourne
Kookaburras v Netherlands – 3pm start Hockeyroos v Netherlands – 5pm start
Sunday 3 February 2019 – State Netball & Hockey Centre, Melbourne
Kookaburras v Belgium – 3pm start, Hockeyroos v Belgium – 5pm start