We?re no shoo-in
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
TWO years ago, Heath Edwards was a member of the State's under 16 hockey team that walked away with the national title.
Starting today, Edwards and the NSW under 18s team will try to collect another national championship in Darwin but Edwards doesn't think that victory for the NSW team is assured just because they won two years ago.
"It's hard to tell because you don't know what the 17s are like like from all the age groups," the Jetty High student said.
"The under 16s was pretty much through school so there was only under 16s, so there's probably some good younger kids from the other states.
"Queensland and Victoria will always be strong."
Edwards has been a part of the elite junior programs for many years and is currently part the NSW Institute of Sport's Hockey program which has identified talented juniors who will be eligible for the 2009 under 21 World Championships.
The 17-year-old striker was the first to admit that he never considered himself a certain member of the State team and was concerned that his recent performances might be too closely watched by selectors.
"I've been on and off lately, I played alright last week but I kind of had a few bad ones before that but everyone has those," Edwards said.
"There are certain days when you're not in positions or you've got a really good defender on you.
"One day your shots will miss by an inch and the next day they'll go in. It's pretty tough to keep hitting them in all the time with pressure from defenders and all that sort of stuff."
Edwards can't wait to get into the matches today but he's prepared himself well to handle the humid conditions that Darwin will force him to endure.
"I think wearing singlets and minimal clothing will be best because it's going to be really hot," he joked.
"We've got a lot of players so we'll just be running our guts out and then pretty much coming off for a break as they've got fans in the dugout, so it's just keeping ourselves hydrated really."
The team is ready for the challenge ahead and Edwards says that the selections trials were held in a manner that could try to simulate the expected conditions.
"They did our last trial in the hot middle of the day so we got used to it and they could see how we played in that weather," Edwards said.
"They've picked a lot of forwards because the forwards are going to be running around all the time, so with being hot it's going to be run around, come off, quickly changing and drinking a heap of water. It's going to be tough."