THE WA men’s and women’s teams are jumping into a new season of the Australian Hockey League full of hope.
Perth Hockey Stadium in Bentley will host the competition from today to October 8 with all the states and territories represented alongside invitational teams New Zealand and India.
WA Thundersticks captain Aran Zalewski said his team was eager to start the competition after finishing as runners-up to Victoria last year.
“We’ve had a good lead-up, we’ve managed to get three practice matches in during the last few weeks,” he said.
“We are feeling really good and optimistic, we start with NT (Northern Territory) but with the format of the competition all the games are going to be tight so it’s imperative we get off to a winning start.
“From my point of view, the squad has come together pretty well and although myself and some of the Aussie boys have joined in the last couple of weeks, we really feel like the WA guys set a good platform.”
Zalewski said he saw plenty of talent in the squad with seven players about to make their debut for WA.
“We’ve got Trent Mitton up front looking dangerous, a young guy Liam Flynn, who was the top goal scorer in the Perth league, we’ve got Tyler Lovell in the net, who is a stalwart, he doesn’t let anything in.
“There are a couple of young guys who have played one or two years like Coby Green and Frazer Gerrard, they are up and coming players.
“It’s been unfortunate during the last couple of years being the bridesmaid but this year we will take it one step at a time.”
Diamonds co-captain Jemma Buckley believed her team had experienced a good build-up to the competition.
“We are so well balanced and we don’t rely on one or two players to score goals; we are feeling confident,” she said.
“It’s about trying to put your best team on the field; the issue is that everyone is so equal.”
Diamonds co-captain Kate Denning believed the team had a good mix of experience and youth in the team.
“I think Penny Squibb and Jemma (Buckley) at the back are going to be really important players and we’ve got strength in each of the lines,” she said.
“I don’t think we rely on anyone in particular, we’ve got Aleisha Power as an up and coming goalie.”