INJURED Hockeyroo Jade Warrender believes the wealth of Orange players selected in 2013 Hockey NSW representative squads to compete in next year’s Australian Championships is a credit to junior hockey in the city.
Orange’s stable of young stars again caught the eye of state selectors, with Kinross-CYMS pair Rachel Divall and Maddie Smith continuing their climb up the ranks, named in the NSW under 18s women’s squad of 25.
Michael Dillon, a star with Orange Wanderers, has made the men’s under 18s cut.
After successfully guiding NSW to the Australian under 18s title earlier this year, Nick Hill and Nic Milne will make the step up to the state’s under 21s squad in 2013.
Hill will be one of the more experienced under 21s players next year, having earned selection in the 2012 team as well.
And, despite being just four weeks into a 12-month rehabilitation program after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament in a training accident, Warrender has been selected in the NSW women’s under 21s squad.
Warrender said to see a number of Orange’s young talents being recognised at a state level was a good sign for future representative players coming out of Orange.
She went further in saying selection for NSW to play against Australia’s premier young hockey players was the best possible springboard in making the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos, Australian’s men’s and women’s hockey sides.
“I think it’s very positive signs. We’ve been getting some of these kids noticed and they’re making the step up from WRAS (Western Region Academy of Sport) to NSW,” Warrender said.
“I remember reading an article and Wally (Wayne Gaynor) and Beth (Shea) were saying they’d been helping juniors make the next step. All of their work is now paying off.”
Warrender said both Hill and Milne had a big opportunity.
“Definitely. Under 21s, that’s where the Australian selectors do come and watch,” she said.
“They use the champs to pick junior Australian sides and development sides and even the Australian teams. It’s a great opportunity for young players to get noticed at that level.”
No stranger to the level of competition at national championships having competed for NSW in 2010 and 2011, Warrender said both young men will have to step up.
“When you bring all of the best young juniors in the country together, it’s tough hockey,” she said.
“At junior level championships, NSW are quite dominant but at the under 21s, all of the states level out. The strongest teams win rather than the teams who rely on stand out individuals.”
Players selected in the 2013 Hockey NSW representative squads will go through a series of trials to earn a place in the final squad before the national championships begin next year.