Aussie hockey coach warns squad

Sydney: Newly-crowned Champions Trophy winners Australia may become victims of their own success with European clubs lining up to sign team members, coach Ric Charlesworth said Monday.

The Kookaburras clinched the Champions Trophy with a 4-0 demolition of England in the final at Monchengladbach, Germany, on Sunday after winning every game in the round-robin tournament featuring the world’s top six teams.

Australia’s success followed their World Cup win in New Delhi in March and Charlesworth is now targeting Commonwealth Games gold in October to complete a clean sweep this year and keep them on target for Olympic Gold in London in 2012.

But Charlesworth said it would be difficult for his team to keep producing results while so many were playing in professional leagues in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.

He said it was hard for the players to meet up for regular training sessions and he also fears the crowded playing schedule in Europe could burn his players out.

“It is a problem that we don’t spent enough time together, but on the flip side when those players are unavailable it gives opportunities for another scholarship holder to come into the side,” Charlesworth told Australian Associated Press.

“Some of our senior players say that they play too much hockey, are prone to injury and get into bad habits but others thrive on playing in a tough league.

“But from my point of view, they have to want to play for Australia and that has to be their priority.

“Until a player has established themselves in this team and despite the fact we are doing well, not many of them have, they run the risk of missing out if they opt to play in Europe.”

Seven of the 18-man Champions’ Trophy squad are based in Europe, including star midfielder Jamie Dwyer, skipper Eddie Ockenden and prolific goalscorer Des Abbott.

On top of that three of the World Cup-winning side, Mark Knowles, Kiel Brown and Rob Hammond, who were rested for the Champions Trophy, are also based overseas.

Former world player of the year Dwyer, who plays for top Dutch side Bloemendaal, said the lack of money in the Australian game forced players to head overseas.

“In Australia I would have to work for 40 hours, train in the evening and then play at weekend and I don’t think I would be at the level I am now if that was the case,” Dwyer said.

“I think the situation does have to be monitored as it is not good for the team not to be able to hook up regularly, however, we are the poor relations in many ways.”

Bureau Report