Kleinschmidt fires warning to rivals in pursuit of gold
IF the Australian men's hockey team was not already the most intimidating assignment for rival nations at a Commonwealth Games, Kookaburras midfielder Aaron Kleinschmidt has fired sweetly-timed reminder.
"It's our real strength,” Kleinschmidt said. "We improve with every game.
"We want our best game to be the last game we play.”
The Kookaburras have won all five Commonwealth Games gold medals on offer, and have started strongly in their quest for a sixth.
Wins against South Africa (4-0) and Scotland (6-1) sent the home side straight to the top of the Pool A table midway through the pool games, a position maintained courtesy of another dominant 4-0 win against Canada.
Wednesday's fourth and final pool game against New Zealand will determine who tops the pool, but Kleinschmidt's words must have Pool B's top two teams, India and England, on notice.
Kleinschmidt, the cousin of Kookaburras legend Troy Elder, was born in Bundaberg.
He played his junior hockey for Arrows Athletics until he and his family moved to Melbourne.
He was 12 at the time, but the now 28-year-old regularly returns hom courtesy of his close familial link with Queensland's Rum City.
"I got my start at Arrows and played a few games for Bundaberg, and what's nice about us playing at the Gold Coast is they're able to come and watch me play live,” Kleinschmidt said.
"This is my multi-sport event. It's been absolutely incredible.”
The Kookaburras by Blake Govers' injury-forced withdrawal from the side days out from their tournament-opening game against South Africa, but Kleinschmidt said Tom Wickham's arrival did not impact the team.
"We're all based at Perth and Tom's trained with us every day,” Kleinschmidt said.
"It would've been tough for him, coming all the way over from Perth, but he fills the role well.
"(Blake's withdrawal) puts a bit of a lull on the team but it was a nasty break, there was no way he could play.
"We had a bit of a slow start in that first game but we've built up pretty well.”