Kalindi Commerford and Grace Stewart’s Hockeyroos home in on Commonwealth Games

Grace Stewart (30) and her Hockeyroos team mates celebrate a goal against China PR. Photo: HOCKEY AUSTRALIA
Grace Stewart (30) and her Hockeyroos team mates celebrate a goal against China PR. Photo: HOCKEY AUSTRALIA

HOCKEYROOS coach Paul Gaudoin knows there’s plenty of work to be done ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games but is pleased with his side’s progress after back-to-back series wins.

Australia, which includes Ulladulla’s Kalindi Commerford and Gerringong’s Grace Stewart, rounded out two series against China and Spain over the past month in Perth, with a 4-2 victory at Guildford Grammar Turf on Saturday night.

The Hockeyroos defeated China in the five-game series with three wins, one draw and one loss, while they edged Spain in a four-game Test series with one win and three draws.

The group now enters an intense training block ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April where they face tough opposition with world number two England and world number four New Zealand among the nations competing.

After all, it was New Zealand who knocked the Hockeyroos out in the quarter-finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, while several members of the current England side were part of the Great Britain team which claimed gold in Rio too.

The Hockeyroos won’t play any more competitive matches before selection is finalised for the Commonwealth Games in mid-March but Gaudoin said there was plenty to work on before they chase a fourth consecutive gold medal.

“We’ve still got a fair way to go before Commonwealth Games,” Gaudoin said.

“Getting international matches is really important for our progression to test ourselves and to know where we sit.

“We go away from this knowing the areas we need to work on and to really home in for six to seven weeks later.”

The Hockeyroos journeyed to WA’s south-west for a camp on Monday before returning to Perth later in the week to resume their training block.

“We’ve got an intense block in Perth,” Gaudoin said.

“We’ll go away for a few days for a camp to do some team building activities.

“They’ll come back refreshed and clear on what we need to do to get ourselves ready to get on a plane for the Gold Coast.”

Reflecting on the China and Spain series which were played after a five-week break over Christmas, Gaudoin said plenty was learned and gained ahead of a big year which also includes the World Cup.

“Coming off the Spain series where we were a bit rusty – I thought we improved throughout the China series and started to get some consistency in terms of an overall performance which was pleasing,” he said.

“China are a very good team and we know that, so I think we’ve got a lot of learnings out of it.

“We’ve been able to home a lot of the tactics we’ve been working on and we’ve been able to put our linkages together with our team and people start to understand what other people need on the field and that’s crucial.

“I thought our press improved and how we were without the ball was excellent.

“That’s how we want to play, we want to put pressure on the opposition. We’ve just got to maximise on those turnovers, so we can actually put some scoreboard pressure on.

“Our set piece wasn’t at the standard we want but these series give you that focus area to work on.”

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