Proud, honoured, excited: Rocky young gun primed for tour
HOCKEY: Kaleb Christensen is "proud, honoured and excited” to be wearing the green and gold for the first time.
The talented midfielder flew out of Rockhampton yesterday to join the Australian schoolboys team for a two-week tour of South Africa.
The Aussies will have several practice matches before playing a three-Test series against the host country.
Kaleb is hoping this appearance for Australia will be the first of many as he looks to follow in the footsteps of home-grown hero Mark Knowles.
"The player I idolise the most is the legend Mark Knowles, who is a brilliant and very smart player,” Kaleb said.
"Knowing that he is a Southern Suburbs original like myself who has taken the journey all the way to captain the Kookaburras is really inspiring and makes me want to continue where he left off.
"This is my first time playing for Australia and it really is an honour to know I am going to represent my country playing the sport I love.”
This is Kaleb's first overseas trip and he is also excited about experiencing a different culture and the tourism opportunities, which include a safari.
He earned his place in the Australian team after helping Queensland win gold at last year's Pacific School Games.
In what has been a stellar 12 months for the rising star, he also played in the state under-18 indoor and outdoor teams and lined up with his older brothers Nathan Christensen and Ashley Hennegan for the first time in Hockey Queensland's signature event, the Poligras Super League.
It was through his brothers that Kaleb was introduced to hockey at age four and he rates Ashley and Nathan as two of the most influential players in his career so far.
He is inspired by their achievements and Ashley, who is a member of the Queensland Blades squad, made this very trip to South Africa 10 years ago.
Kaleb has been focusing on his speed and strength to ensure he gets the better of those 50/50 battles on the field.
He said his love for the game continues to grow.
"Every time I play I enjoy the game more. The game's evolving and it's getting better and it's great to be part of it,” he said.