Tweed players named as Kookas

ONLY a few years ago, Matthew Butturini and Jason Wilson played hockey together on the Tweed, Wilson up front as striker and Butturini at half-back.

Yesterday, both men were named in the Australian Kookaburras hockey squad for 2010, setting up the possibility they could unite on-field again, this time on the World Cup stage in New Delhi.

Butturini, 22, was rewarded for his part in the victorious Champions Trophy team earlier this month by being named in the squad for the second year running, while Wilson, also 22, has moved into the top squad for the first time.

It is an exciting year to be in the team, with the World Cup in February, followed by a return trip to India for the Commonwealth Games in October.

Wilson, who has moved to Perth, told the Tweed Daily News yesterday he was excited to be part of the squad, but said challenges lay ahead.

“It is definitely a big step up from the development squad to the actual squad,” he said.

“To make the squad now, in the build-up to the World Cup, is pretty exciting. Hopefully I can make the team.”

Coach Ric Charlesworth has injected youth into the squad since taking over after the Beijing Olympics and has had almost immediate success, with the Kookaburras winning the Champions Trophy.

Butturini, who has 24 caps for Australia, played a key role in the victory, while Wilson, who has 11 caps for Australian youth teams, missed the Champions Trophy with a toe injury.

Wilson said it was disappointing to miss out on the tournament, but his selection yesterday had put him back in the right frame of mind.

He said the younger brigade was enthusiastic and “pumped up”. They didn’t regard themselves as a “safety net” for the more experienced players, and instead they wanted to be in the team.

Wilson, a Kingscliff product, has never been to India and is looking forward to going on tour with the squad.

“It has been a fair while since the Kookaburras have been over there, about 10 years,” he said.

“Hockey is really popular, so there will definitely be some of the biggest crowds and the build-up will be huge.

“Fox is also broadcasting the tournament, so it will be a great thing to have everyone watching from home.”

Champions Trophy stars Brent Dancer, Matthew Swann, Glenn Turner and Matthew Gohdes have gained promotion from the development squad, along with Wilson.

“There has been some movement between the groups (senior and development), which I think reflects a healthy competitiveness among the team. It indicates that there has been progress made,” Charlesworth said.

“We intend to pick players from both squads throughout next year, so those players in the development squad are still all well in contention.”

Charlesworth has kept plenty of experience in the squad, with Mark Knowles, Liam de Young, Brent Livermore and world player of the year Jamie Dwyer set to add to their already impressive number of caps.

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