'It's going to be tough': strong start vital for baby Blues, says Barrett

CHLOE Barrett is hoping her and the NSW Blues side she’s part of can start today’s 2014 Hockey Australia under 18s Women’s Australian Championships strong and remain strong.

The second NSW outfit set to contest this year’s national championships, Barret’s Blues will tackle Tasmania in their opening clash today in Melbourne before going head-to-head with defending champions and friendly rivals NSW.

Having trained against the NSW side for most of the lead-up to the nine-day national championships, Barrett believes her side will know exactly what to expect from their NSW counterparts.

The fact the NSW main side has fellow Orange young guns Madie Smith and Rachel Divall only adds to the Blues’ inside knowledge come game time.

“Definitely,” Barrett laughed.

“Every time we’ve trained we’ve trained ones-v-twos, so we know what we’re in for. They were the best team in Australia last year so we know it’s going to be tough. 

“I’m just hoping to play well. If the team can start strong and stay strong then I think we can do well.”

A regular in the sky blue at previous national championships, this year’s, however, is Barrett’s first at the under 18s level.

Predicting the step up from under 15s hockey to be “huge”, Barrett said her NSW team would be able to hold its own.

“We walked past the Northern Territory and the South Australian sides after training there (on Wednesday) and we all thought ‘wow, they’re so much bigger’,” Barrett said.

“We’re big ourselves, but it’s going to be tough.”

NSW coaches, though, believe both Blues outfits have a real chance at finishing one-two in Pool A. Smith’s and Divall’s NSW side will likely top the pool, but Barrett’s NSW Blue side is a shot at second, with Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania also grouped in Pool A.

“They think we can come second,” Barrett said of her side’s chances. “A top-two finish would be great.”

The NSW Blues side plays its first game at 1pm today. Defending champions NSW tackle Victoria (2) in their opener today at 5pm.

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