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Next tier of Hockeyroos announced for 2022

Published Tue 22 Mar 2022

The athletes considered as the Hockeyroos’ next in line have been revealed following the announcement of this year’s Women’s National Development Squad (NDS).

Queenslanders Hannah Cullum-Sanders, Tatum Stewart and Emily Witheyman-Crump, New South Wales trio Zoe Newman, Maddison Smith and Grace Young, Victorian Zali Ward and Perth based Rachel Frusher are all new faces to the 23-athletes selected.

Cullum-Sanders, Stewart, Young and Ward enter the NDS from the Australian Women’s Junior U21 (Jillaroos) squad.

The Women’s NDS is an integral stepping stone in the pathway program and comprises athletes identified as being on the fringe and available for Hockeyroos selection.

From last year’s Women’s NDS, Rebecca Greiner and Shanea Tonkin received call ups to this year’s Hockeyroos squad.

Hockeyroos Head Coach Katrina Powell said the NDS selection has unearthed some hidden gems, further strengthening the depth of the Hockeyroos and women’s hockey in Australia.

“There are some players who have been selected who haven’t been part of our pathways before such as Rachel Frusher who has developed into a really smart and capable half back,” said Powell.

“There are some older players who have quietly been developing and also some youngsters who have a lot of talent and potential.

“There is a really good mix of athletes with different levels of experience and capability, and also ones where we needed the support of the National Institute Network to realise they were out there.”

With only 22 athletes in this year’s Hockeyroos squad, Powell said there is every chance players from the NDS could receive a call up to represent Australia at senior level.

“I’ve got no doubt there will be times we need to select from outside the 22 players in the Hockeyroos squad and we want to make sure the 23 players in the National Development Squad are ready to go when needed,” said Powell.

“There are some who would be able to play international hockey right now and some have (Laura Barden, Savannah Fitzpatrick and Sophie Taylor), so we know we can immediately call on players who are experienced.”

“Then with our talented juniors coming through we also have a glimpse of the future with an eye on Paris in 2024.”

Selection of this year’s NDS was largely based on performances at the various national selection camps earlier this year and at last week’s Domestic Series on the Gold Coast.

Powell said COVID had made the past two years a challenge for athletes, coaches and selectors. But despite the lack of high level competition since last year’s Tokyo Olympics, Powell is excited by the progress she has seen.

“It has been difficult to track athletes over the last 12 months so having the national selection camps and the Domestic Series where the athletes came together to compete at that next level provided a good opportunity,” said Powell.

“It has also been exciting because 12 months is a long time for athletes to develop. To see the progression and where some of the players are at and the exciting talent we have out there is great to see.”

The NDS athletes train at their home National Training Centre (NTC) under guidance of national program coaches and could be invited to attend Hockeyroos trainings in Perth throughout the year as part of a Visiting Athlete Agreement (VAA).

2022 Women’s National Development Squad
Alice Arnott (NSW), Hannah Astbury (QLD), Laura Barden (VIC), Morgan Blamey (NSW), Hannah Cullum-Sanders (QLD), Savannah Fitzpatrick (QLD), Rachel Frusher (WA), Morgan Gallagher (QLD), Annie Gibbs (WA), Nicola Hammond (VIC), Carly James (VIC), Phillipa Morgan (WA), Zoe Newman (NSW), Maddison Smith (NSW), Michaela Spano (SA), Tatum Stewart (QLD), Sophie Taylor (VIC), Aisling Utri (VIC), Zali Ward (VIC), Britt Wilkinson (QLD), Abigail Wilson (NSW), Emily Witheyman-Crump (QLD), Grace Young (NSW)