TEAM LEADER: Australia's Madonna Blyth and Argentina's Carla Dupuy compete for the ball during their match in the the women's Champions Trophy in London last month.
TEAM LEADER: Australia's Madonna Blyth and Argentina's Carla Dupuy compete for the ball during their match in the the women's Champions Trophy in London last month. Adam Davy

Hockeyroos put faith in rookies

THE Hockeyroos will be relying on youth to spearhead their Rio campaign, naming 12 Olympic debutants in the 16-woman squad.

Madonna Blyth, who has more than 350 international caps, will lead the team in her third Olympics, while Casey Sablowski will also play in her third campaign.

London 2012 Olympians Emily Smith and Jodie Kenny will line up for their second Olympics in Rio.

Brooke Peris, Edwina Bone, Gabrielle Nance, Georgina Parker, Georgina Morgan, Grace Stewart, Jane-Anne Claxton, Karri McMahon, Kathryn Slattery, Kirstin Dwyer, Mariah Williams and Rachael Lynch will all make their Olympic debut.

Despite being eligible, London Olympian Anna Flanagan was overlooked for the team, just months after she failed to inform the Australian Olympic Committee about a drink-driving charge.

Blyth said it would be important for the senior members of the team to help the Olympic rookies.

“It’s obviously a privilege and special every time that I lead the girls out on to the pitch, but at an Olympic Games it’s even more so,” she said.

“A lot of different things happen around the Olympics so it’s important not to let the pressure get to them and to enjoy the overall experience.

“It’s great to have more experienced members of the team there who know what to expect, who can help prepare the girls for Rio.”

Goalkeeper Lynch was looking forward to making her Olympic debut after missing out in London.

“It’s been my dream to go to the Olympics for such a long time, and after 10 years of hard work and the disappointment of missing out the last time it was such a relief to see that I had made the team,” Lynch said.

Coach Adam Commens said he was happy with his squad.

“In the end we have selected a fantastic group of players that are all in fantastic form,” he said.

“To win Olympic medals it’s important to have in-form players that are also on the improve. We have this throughout our Olympic selection of 16 and I’m excited by our prospects in Rio.”

The world No.3-ranked Australians will compete in Pool B against Argentina (world No.2), Great Britain (No.6), USA (No.7), Japan (No.10) and India (No.13).

Competition starts on August 6 with the gold medal match on August 18.



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