Eddie Ockenden never expected to reach 100 games let alone 300 and is blown away to be joining the elite company like Jamie Dwyer, Brent Livermore and Mark Knowles in the exclusive club.
Hobart product Ockenden played his 300th game for the Kookaburras in todays match against Germany in Bhubaneswar, India.
The midfielder, who debuted internationally as a teenager in 2006, will become the sixth Kookaburra to bring up 300 games and the first Tasmanian to reach the milestone.
Ockenden will join Dwyer, Jay Stacy, Livermore, Liam De Young and Knowles in the 300-game club.
“There’s been some greats ahead of me to play 300 games. I played in a couple of those (milestone) games. I played with three of those guys, so it’s pretty cool. It’s an indication of how much hockey we played nowadays as well.” Ockenden said ahead of the match.
Ockenden was beaming with state pride when asked about becoming the first Tasmanian to reach the milestone.
“I’m very proud to represent Tasmania,” he said. “Being the first Tasmanian to reach 300 games is pretty cool.
“We’ve had a really long history with the Kookaburras and the Hockeyroos so I’m proud to be Tasmanian and to represent the state and continue our proud hockey tradition.”
Ockenden debuted for Australia in June 2006 against South Korea at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia as a 19-year-old.
“When you’re young on debut I never thought I’d reach 10, 20, 100 or 300 games.When you’re young, you don’t really think about that. You go out there and try to cement yourself in the team, play the best you can and improve as much as you can. It hasn’t been quick but it seems like it’s gone quickly now when you think about 12 years ago.”
Ockenden cited the likes of Tasmanian Institute of Sport mentor Andrew McDonald as a key influence over his journey, along with Australian coaches Barry Dancer, Colin Batch, Ric Charlesworth, Graham Reid and Paul Gaudoin.
Now 30, Ockenden said he had no retirement plans at this stage, although he wasn’t setting his sights on reaching Dwyer’s record 365-game mark just yet.
“I’m not too sure how much longer I want to keep playing. I’m having a really good time now. I’ve got a young little boy and it’s not held me back. While I’m loving it and while my body is feeling good and I’m still in the team, I don’t have an end goal. I’ll just enjoy it and if I’m enjoying it, I’m happy to be around.” he said