Aussie team settling in for hockey contest

Australian national women's hockey team members Ashlee Wells and Karri McMahon get ready for the Tri Nations tournament in Cromwell. Photo: Tom Kitchin
Australian national women's hockey team members Ashlee Wells and Karri McMahon get ready for the Tri Nations tournament in Cromwell. Photo: Tom Kitchin
Even though it might be a few degrees colder than their base in Perth, members of the Australian women's hockey team, the Hockeyroos, are making themselves right at home for the Cromwell Tri Nations hockey tournament.

Yesterday, the team had its first training session in Cromwell, the first for the three teams competing in the tournament.

The New Zealand Black Sticks and Japan's national hockey team will arrive in the Central Otago town by tomorrow night to begin the tournament on Saturday.

Australian goalkeeper Ashlee Wells (28) and defender Karri McMahon (26) said although it was a change from the recent 30degC Perth weather, they were making the most of it.

''It's definitely a bit chilly,'' Wells said.

The Australian team was awarded a silver medal at this year's Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast, losing to New Zealand.

''Obviously, that was a bit disappointing for us not to come away with a gold but we've made some changes here to have a look at new players and new combinations within the group,'' McMahon said.

She said the games in Cromwell would prepare the teams for the 2018 Women's Hockey World Cup in London in July-August.

''It's about refining our team now and honing in on some specific stuff and making some improvements since the [Commonwealth] Games.''

A trip to New Zealand may be the easiest for the team, they said.

''[New Zealand] is a good place to go that's foreign. Half the shops are the same,'' Wells said.

''Coffee is also normal,'' McMahon quipped.

Wells said, other than the ''freezing cold'', New Zealand was a great place to compete.

''For us to have New Zealand at quite a good standard, it's nice to have that short distance. We don't have to sit on a plane for an entire day just to get good competition.''

The tournament starts on Saturday with a New Zealand-Japan game, and the Hockeyroos will play their first game on Sunday against New Zealand.

Central Otago Sports Turf Trust chairman Michael Paardekooper said tickets were still available for some games and people were welcome to come along and watch the teams train.

tom.kitchin@odt.co.nz

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