The Hockeyroos begin their journey towards Tokyo this weekend with the start of the FIH Pro League.
The Kookaburras missed a medal and the semi-final round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, the first time they have missed the medal round since the 1980 boycott (2012 was eight in a row), a record better than all the other top-ten ranked nations in the world.
Colin Batch took the reins post-Rio and began reinventing the team, but to return to the medal rounds at Tokyo 2020, the Kookaburras will need to do it with minimal Olympic experience.
The announcement of the 27-man 2020 Kookaburras squad sees just eight former Olympians available for selection. The silver lining may be that all 18 representatives from the 2018 World Cup team which won a bronze medal are in the squad.
So, who makes the plane for Tokyo 2020?
— Kookaburras (@Kookaburras) November 21, 2019
Age as at the end of 2019
1. Eddie Ockenden, 32 years old (Tassie Tigers)
Has been there and done it all except for one thing. Has seen himself reinvented under Batch.
2. Jake Whetton, 28 years old (Brisbane Blaze)
The move to the midfield has seen him take his game to a new level. Was a nominee for FIH player of the year 2018 and was in the discussion with winner Arthur van Doren.
3. Matthew Swann, 30 years old (Brisbane Blaze)
Is showing signs of slowing down. Plays the team role to perfection, which is why he will be one of the first names picked.
4. Flynn Ogilvie, 26 years old (NSW Pride)
If his Hockey One final is anything to go by, he finally looks ready to deliver on the international stage.
5. Aran Zalewski, 28 years old (Perth Thundersticks)
Team co-captain. One of the purest central midfielders in the game, sets the tone for the team on and off the field. Competitive beast.
6. Andrew Charter, 32 years old (Canberra Chill)
Was the number one goalkeeper at Rio. The battle between Charter and Lovell is sometimes the flip of a coin. Has time gone past him?
7. Tyler Lovell, 32 years old (Perth Thundersticks)
His battles with Charter have provided the team with constant desire to improve this area of the team. Like Charter, is getting on, being the Olympics and the likelihood of only one goalkeeper being selected this could be his final chance. Heartbreak again?
8. Tim Brand, 21 years old (NSW Pride)
Has athleticism, skills and vision. Appears to have taken the next step after being a bolter into the 2018 World Cup squad.
9. Daniel Beale, 26 years old (Brisbane Blaze)
Now a mainstay of the midfield. Is professional and adds attacking value to a very strong midfield.
10. Trent Mitton, 29 years old (Perth Thundersticks)
Oozes class, one of the top three in everything he does. Has missed most major tournaments, but finally cracked the 2018 World Cup. Missed selection for 2012 and 2016. Fingers crossed he makes next year’s Games.
11. Matt Dawson, 25 years old (NSW Pride)
A defender who burst on the scene in 2014, but an injury at training almost cost him his career and eye in 2018. Has over 130 caps. Unsure as to what his best role in the team is.
12. Tim Howard, 23 years old (Brisbane Blaze)
The heir apparent to Mark Knowles. Has the attitude and desire, but it may take one more Olympic cycle at least to reach the heights of Knowles.
13. Jeremy Hayward, 26 years old (Tassie Tigers)
Missed Olympic selection in 2016 despite being a very young member of the successful 2014 World Cup squad. Provides a penalty corner threat offensively and is a strong defensive penalty corner runner.
14. Jake Harvie, 21 years old (Perth Thundersticks)
The new-age offensive threat. Plays in the midfield for the Thundersticks, but like Ockenden is used in a defensive position to provide a counter-attacking threat in the national setup.
15. Blake Govers, 23 years old
A veteran of almost 100 caps. Top goalscorer in the Hockey One League, posing both a field goal and a penalty corner threat and averages almost a goal a game when he pulls on the gold jersey for the Kookaburras.
16. Tom Craig, 24 years old (NSW Pride)
A supreme athlete whose explosiveness can open up teams. Can play both midfield and striker.
17. Lachlan Sharp, 22 years old (NSW Pride)
A midfielder/forward who provides spark. Might find himself outside the best midfielders in the team but with only 16 players allowed at an Olympics his versatility might see him in Tokyo.
18. Jacob Anderson, 22 years old (Brisbane Blaze)
A striker who proved his worth in his limited opportunities so far. Was part of the Oceania Cup team that achieved qualification for 2020.
19. Joshua Beltz, 24 years old (Tassie Tigers)
A solid defender, however, seems to be sitting behind Swann, Dawson, Hayward and Howard in the pecking order.
20. Nathan Ephraums, 20 years old (HC Melbourne)
The smokey for Tokyo. Uncapped midfielder/striker who shows enormous potential in his ability to control and influence games.
21. Kurt Lovett, 22 years old (NSW Pride)
An uncapped striker who provides explosiveness.
22. Corey Weyer, 23 years old (Brisbane Blaze)
Still has enormous potential and is closing in on 100 caps but doesn’t seem to be able to control an international game the way his country (and coach) has been asking him to.
23. Tom Wickham, 29 years old (Perth Thundersticks)
A supremely professional player who has got more out of his body and career than expected. Was part of the Oceania Cup team that achieved qualification for 2020. An unlikely Olympic starter.
24. Dylan Wotherspoon, 26 years old (Brisbane Blaze)
A striker who is closing in on 100 caps and scores in every third game. Missed selection for the Oceania Cup and World Cup qualifiers. Is his international career starting to stall?
25. Josh Simmonds, 24 years old (HC Melbourne)
A defender who can fill several roles. Looks unlikely at this point.
26. Jack Welch, 22 years old (Tassie Tigers)
Striker who is a chance for Tokyo but would need to produce in any opportunity presented to him.
27. Johan Durst, 28 years old (HC Melbourne)
Has been in and around the national team for several years, but only has three caps to his name. Still sits behind Charter and Lovell, but time is more on his side than theirs.
1. Aaron Kleinschmidt, 30 years old (HC Melbourne)
A member of the gold medal-winning team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, but has lost his spot in the Kookaburras squad.
2. Jack Hayes, 25 years old (NSW Pride)
Another who lost his spot from 2019.
3. Frazer Gerrard, 23 years old (Perth Thundersticks)
If he can get his body right, could be anything.
4. James Day, 25 years old (Canberra Chill)
National development squad member 2018-19. Has plied his trade in Perth for Melville City HC the last couple of years. Defender who poses a penalty corner threat.
5. Brayden King, 21 years old (Perth Thundersticks)
Player of the tournament at the Under 21 National Championships, plenty of upside and work to be done.
6. Ash Thomas, 24 years old (NSW Pride)
Young goalkeeper, but likely too far behind the top two.
7. Tim Geers, 25 years old (Perth Thundersticks)
Continually overlooked despite leading his team well.
The Olympic Games only allow hockey teams to have 16 squad members players – a decision based on the cost of athlete accommodation and medals – as a result, most teams will only select one goalkeeper.