In this year’s men’s and women’s Australian Hockey League, which kicks off on Saturday, Orange products Hayden Dillon and twins Edwina and Meredith Bone have the same goal – paint the competition blue.
They’re chasing different shades though, sky and royal respectively, Dillon will line up for the NSW Waratahs while the Bone sisters are once again expected to front for the Canberra Strikers.
Dillon, now playing in Newcastle, is joined in the Waratahs’ side by Bathurst’s Nic McEwen, Lithgow’s Lachie Sharp and Parkes’ Kurt Lovett, they’ll be chasing NSW’s first men’s title since 2005, the side hasn’t actually featured in a grand final since 2011.
There’s a handful of central west products in the NSW women’s side too, naturally they’ll be hoping to foil the Bones’ bid too.
Bathurst’s Tamsin Bunt and Jess Watterson, Parkes’ Mariah Williams and Lithgow’s Abby Wilson will all take the field for the Arrows, who last reigned supreme in 2015.
“It’s unbelievable how quickly it’s come around again,” Bunt said.
“We’ve been training hard for the past couple of months. We train in Sydney twice a week as a team and have done a lot of practice matches on a Tuesday night and the team’s looking really good.
“We’ve got a few girls coming back who were injured last year. We have Georgie Morgan and Mariah Williams who are back from injury and Greta Hayes is back from overseas.
“This year will be a different format where they only pick 14 players instead of 16 for each round. With less numbers to select from it’s critical that everyone's on their game.”
Victoria enters both the men’s and women’s competitions as defending champions.
“We’re always one of the top teams but the others up there are Queensland, who we play first and that will be tough, and obviously Victoria,” Bunt said.
“You never know though what’s going to happen at AHL.
“It will be an extremely tough game against Queensland to start. We know what we’re going to get from them but at the same time they’ll know what to expect from us. It will be a fiery game.”