Aussies, Kiwis set for epic battles in Oceania Cup
HOCKEY: Kookaburras co-captain Aran Zalewski is expecting a "war of attrition” in this week's Oceania Cup in Rockhampton.
The Australian and New Zealand men's and women's teams will clash in a best-of-three Test series, with the winners automatically qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Tests will be played on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at the city's hockey headquarters in Koongal.
Thursday's program also features a game between a Legends line-up, which includes Rockhampton's home-grown heroes Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles and Matt Gohdes, and a CQ Invitational side.
The Intercontinental Hockey 5s, which are being played in conjunction with the Oceania Cup, start on Wednesday with games between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Zalewski said he was excited about playing in Rockhampton.
"I'm from a regional area myself so to come out somewhere regional and play top-quality international matches is really great,” he said.
"It's a great showcase for the town and for the state and we're really looking forward to these games starting on Thursday.
"We know there's some great hockey pedigree here with Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles and Matt Gohdes coming from this area.”
Zalewski is one of nine players in the 18-man squad that has made more than 100 appearances for the Kookaburras.
He said spectators at the Oceania Cup would be guaranteed some entertaining hockey.
"New Zealand are a quality team. We've seen them perform really well over a number of years now and they've got a really experienced and really talented bunch of players.
"Our preparations have been really good... and we're really comfortable with how we're going at the moment.
"You can certainly expect some great hockey in Rockhampton this week.
"You're looking at two of the top 10 teams in the world going at it over a three-match series.
"I think it will be a war of attrition.”
Hockeyroos co-captain Jodie Kenny said the Aussie women were keen to have the series wrapped up after game two on Saturday.
"That's the goal,” she said.
"The girls have been training extremely hard, doing all those little things - the one per centers, to make sure that when we hit the pitch in game one we're ready to go.
"We know it's always going to be tough against New Zealand.
"It's usually pretty physical and it's really fast and exciting so we need to make sure that we're on our game right from that first whistle.
"We're really fit, we're fast and we're skilful so it's just about combining those three strengths.”
Tickets are on sale at rockhamptontickets.com.au.