Kookaburras and coach Ric Charlesworth.
Kookaburras and coach Ric Charlesworth. Getty Images

Kookaburras open with South Africa

RIC Charlesworth has already earned his place among the greats of Australian sport.

A four-time Olympian and former Kookaburras captain, Charlesworth's best result as a player was silver at the Montreal Games in 1976.

He also represented Western Australia at cricket, and later went on to have a decorated career as coach of the Australian women's team, the Hockeyroos.

Also a doctor, Charlesworth was inducted into the Australian hockey Hall of Fame after he coached the women to every major international title, including back-to-back gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta and Sydney 2000 Games, as well as two World Cups.

Now at the helm of the men's team, the gold he never won as a player is the last feather Charlesworth needs in his cap to complete his extraordinary list of achievements.

He took over as coach of the Kookaburras in 2009 and wasted no time transforming the group into the benchmark of international competition.

Just one year after his appointment, the team dominated the world stage with gold medal wins at all three major competitions, the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy.

They have since won three more Champions Trophy titles, and anything less than gold in London will be seen as a serious disappointment.

The Kookaburras open their campaign tonight with a 7.45pm (AEST) match against South Africa, ranked 12 in the world and coming off a last placing in Beijing where the Aussies took bronze.

Charlesworth has named five co-captains for the Olympics - Jamie Dwyer, Eddie Ockenden, Mark, Knowles, Fergus Kavanagh and Liam De Young.

Each of them is expected to lead the side in at least one pool match as Charlesworth rotates his 16-man squad with one eye firmly on having the best possible chance come gold medal day.

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