Coach happy to gamble with Kookaburras
KOOKABURRAS coach Ric Charlesworth has taken a gamble ahead of the London games, picking 10 Olympic debutants and four injured players in the 16-man team.
The legendary coach admitted some of the selections had some question marks over them, but said he was confident the team could improve on the bronze medal effort from Beijing four years ago.
"The team we've picked is the best guess we could make at the moment," Charlesworth said. "We've got four or more athletes under injury clouds, but I'm confident in the team we've picked and we've got a few weeks to prepare."
As for the Kookaburras winning the second gold medal in their Olympic history - the first came in Athens in 2004 - Charlesworth said it was a case of wait and see.
"When our team is playing at its best they can win. We can beat any team," he said.
One of the group of injured players is co-captain Liam De Young, a veteran of 277 matches in the green-and-gold.
London will be his third Olympic campaign, but the 30-year-old said he was just as excited to have his name read out yesterday as the 10 Games debutants.
"To play in an Olympics is something you work really hard for a long time to achieve - it's a huge thrill," De Young, who made his international debut against Belgium in 2001, said. "I cannot wait to do it all again."
The other five players with Olympic experience are five-time World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer, Eddie Ockenden, Mark Knowles, Des Abbott and Fergus Kavanagh.
Dwyer, who scored the winning goal in the Athens eight years ago, said he was looking forward to trying to do that again in London.
"There is not much difference between us and the rest of the world," the Queenslander said. "The competition is so close. At the Olympics it all comes down to the last two games.
"We've got a good team though, we've prepared really well and we are fit - I know we can do it."
The Kookaburras have gone from strength to strength under Charlesworth and are ranked No 1 in the world after winning the last four Champions Trophy tournaments.
The team will fine tune its Olympic preparation in a three-Test series against the New Zealand Black Sticks starting in Cairns later this week.
The Hockeyroos team for London will be announced today.
Kookaburras Olympic Squad: Des Abbott (NT) Nathan Burgers (QLD), Matthew Butturini (NSW), Joel Carroll (NT), Chris Ciriello (VIC), Tim Deavin (TAS), Liam De Young (QLD), Jamie Dwyer (QLD), Matt Gohdes (QLD), Kieran Govers (NSW), Fergus Kavanagh (WA), Mark Knowles (QLD), Eddie Ockenden (TAS), Simon Orchard (NSW), Matthew Swann (QLD), Glenn Turner(ACT)