HOCKEYROOS captain Emily Smith believes the side’s youthful flavour is a major positive as Australia chases gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
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Ten members of the Hockeyroos’ 18-member team named late last week for the Gold Coast event have never competed at the Commonwealth Games before, with several members 23 or younger – including Gerringong’s Grace Stewart, who is 20.
Smith, who has 189 caps, was part of the side that won gold in Glasgow in 2014.
The 25-year-old forward insisted that the lack of Commonwealth Games experience wouldn’t be an issue, instead claiming it was a major positive for the group.
“This young group that we have bring youth and excitement,” Smith said.
“It’s refreshing for us older girls like myself, I’m almost up to 200 games, to see the passion and desire they have to wear the bodysuit brings it back in myself.
“It does get monotonous sometimes where you’re training day-in day-out and you put that much pressure on yourself.
“You see these young girls, they have no expectations, they don’t have that pressure, they just play with the freedom and flexibility of a well-experienced player.
“That balance is something we’ve got to manage.”
Smith acknowledged she was feeling some pressure ahead of the games as captain, given Australia have won the past three gold medals and four of the five overall.
“I have thought about it,” she said, when asked if she dreaded being the captain that saw the Hockeyroos’ streak end.
“It does put on that bit of added pressure.
“We have to go out there and have confidence in the preparation we’ve done.
“Once we get there all the hard work is done.”
The Commonwealth Games will be Smith’s first major tournament as captain, having been appointed in September for the Oceania Cup.
Smith took over from Hockeyroos legend Madonna Blyth who retired after the 2016 Rio Olympics, where they played alongside.
“There’s always nerves that come along with the captaincy,” Smith said.
“But I’ve been to the Comm Games before, I’ve been to the Olympics so I’m just hoping to use that experience to help the other girls that haven’t been there.
“Once the games starts, all that stuff goes out the window.
“We’ve trained this everyday and when you get out there, it just comes down to playing hockey which is what we do everyday.
“Hopefully once the nerves settle and we get those first few touches in, everyone can go to their game plan and perform how we want to.”
The Hockeyroos, who are in Pool B alongside New Zealand (fourth), Scotland (18th), Canada (21st) and Ghana (30th), fly out for Gold Coast on Wednesday 28 March.
Hockeyroos’ Commonwealth Games team: Jocelyn Bartramm, Edwina Bone, Jane Claxton, Ashlea Fey, Savannah Fitzpatrick, Jordyn Holzberger, Emily Hurtz, Jodie Kenny, Stephanie Kershaw, Rachael Lynch, Karri McMahon, Gabrielle Nance, Kaitlin Nobbs, Brooke Peris, Madi Ratcliffe, Emily Smith ©, Grace Stewart and Renee Taylor.
Hockeyroos fixtures (all times AEST):
Thursday, April 5 4:30pm – Australia vs Canada
Saturday, April 7 9:30pm – Australia vs Ghana
Monday, April 9 9:30pm – Australia vs New Zealand
Tuesday, April 10 9:30pm – Australia vs Scotland
Thursday, April 12 – semi-finals
Saturday, April 14 – medal matches
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