Tweed trio gunning for Rio
TWEED Hockey trio Gabrielle Nance and sisters Madison and Savannah Fitzpatrick are closing in on selection for the 2016 Rio Olympics after being named in Hockeyroos’ squads this week.
The Fitzpatricks and Nance will represent the Hockeyroos in a one-off Test against China this Thursday in Perth, while Nance has also been named for the Hockeyroos’ squad for the Hawke’s bay Cup in New Zealand in April.
Hockeyroos head coach Adam Commens named his strongest possible squad for the Hawke’s Bay Cup, while he will primarily utilise the Test against China this Thursday to blood and further develop players of the future.
Nance’s inclusion puts her right in the frame for Olympic selection when she joins 12 returning Hockeyroos, including Captain Madonna Blythe, for the Hawke’s Bay Cup, which Commens said is a crucial part of the Hockeyroos’ preparation for Rio.
“We perceive this side to be our strongest group of 18, although there are a number of players that have missed out who are still well in contention for the Olympic Games,” Commens said.
“It’s always great to be playing against high level opponents when they’re in the same phase of preparation as we are for an event like the Olympic Games.
“It gives us a good idea of where we’re at, and in a tournament scenario like the Hawke’s Bay Cup, there’s an added pressure to get a result, which forms an important element of our preparation.”
Madison Fitzpatrick missed out on selection for the Hawke’s Bay side after looking the most likely of the Tweed trio to gain Olympic selection on the back of a string of strong appearances for the Hockeyroos in 2015.
While the non-selection puts her on the back-foot leading up to Rio, Commens said all players still had the chance to push their case for an Olympic berth.
“There are a number of players that have missed out (on Hawke’s Bay Cup selection) who are still well in contention for the Olympic Games,” he said.
“The game against China gives us the chance to provide opportunities to players just outside our senior group, and a few of those in with a chance of selection for Rio.”
Six of the eight teams competing in Hawke’s Bay - Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea, Japan and India - have qualified for Rio 2016, with Canada and Ireland the final two teams competing.
The Hockeyroos have been drawn in Pool A and will face Japan, Korea and Canada in the group round.