Wanderers' Bailey Ferguson said it's "not surprising at all" to see Orange's Madie Smith, Courtney Hogan, Millah Allcorn and Taylor Dolbel named for NSW Country, considering their showings at last week's Hockey NSW Open Field State Championships.
He did admit his nod was a bit of a shock though.
After helping Orange to fourth in division two Ferguson will join Dolbel - who plays for Lithgow Panthers in Premier League but chose to represent Orange at the state titles - in the men's outfit at August's Australian Country Championships, a gig that comes after a long lay-off in terms of higher-level honours.
I've changed clubs in town ... so I can play with a few more of my mates and I'm really just gone back to enjoying my hockey.Bailey Ferguson, on his mindset change
Ferguson was a NSW regular through his junior years and always flew close to the sun in terms of earning a teen prodigy tag, but his attitude towards representative hockey was tarnished a few years ago after a non-selection.
He's not too proud to admit that either.
"There was a point a few years ago when I didn't get selected in a side and, yeah, it left me a bit discouraged. I sort of just thought 'I don't want to play anymore'," Ferguson said, candidly.
"So this will be the first time I'll play a higher level than Orange in about three or four years.
"I wasn't really thinking about it to be honest. I've changed clubs in town from Confederates to CYMS so I can play with a few more of my mates and I'm really just gone back to enjoying my hockey.
"I'm really looking forward to this one now, it'll be my first time playing for NSW Country opens as well which is good, it'll be good. I'll need to do some training between now and then though, I'm pretty unfit."
Being his debut at this level Ferguson admitted to nerves despite his previous experience, but said having the familiar face of Dolbel will make things a touch easier.
Orange's Nic Milne and Michael Dillon also retained their places in the side, they both play for Panthers as well at the club level but also represented Lithgow at the state titles.
"I didn't get too much into why Taylor played for us at the state titles, I think his brother Logan (Wanderers' skipper) might have sweet-talked him a bit," Ferguson laughed.
"I'm glad he did though and it'll be good having him there for NSW Country, he's a great played.
"Nic and Mick too. I used to play with them at Confederates so it'll be good to have another run together.
"I don't really know what to expect. Even at the state championships I look around and think 'who are all these people', I'm used to being in my own age group where I know everyone.
"I'll be flying in blind in those terms, but that'll be good, I'll go in without expectations."
Ferguson went on to heap praise on Orange's division two championship-winning side, reiterating he's not shocked at all to see CYMS' Smith and Hogan and Confederates' Allcorn called-up to the next level.
Particularly considering they're all incumbents, and will probably be on the Australian Country selectors' radars.
Hogan and Smith have both been at that level before, albeit at the under-21 level.
"It's not surprising at all based on what they did in the state championship. We actually watched their grand final and they were incredible," Ferguson said.
Milne and Dillon are both Australian Country open incumbents as well and Ferguson said he's sure they'll be gunning to retain their places, but said it's not a genuine focus of his.
"It'd be under 21s for me if I was to get named I think, but I'll just go down, try to play well and if that happens, great," he said.
The Australian Country Championships are in Shepparton this year, from August 3-11.
- NSW COUNTRY WOMEN: Millah Allcorn, Madie Smith, Courtney Hogan (Orange), Brooke Anderson, Sarah Osborne, Brittany Parker (New England), Madie Tattersal, Sarah Watterson, Kelly Baker (Bathurst), Tamika Bostock (Lithgow), Priya Bourke (Manning Valley), Emily Chaffey, Katrina Rekunow (Tamworth), Tiahnee Cropper, Bec Hutchinson (Grafton), Carly Haddon (Illawarra South Coast), Amelia Leard (Nepean), Briana Sutton (North West Sydney)
- NSW COUNTRY MEN: Bailey Ferguson, Taylor Dolbel (Orange), Justin Alford (Grafton), Murray Bennett (Newcastle), Darby Chalmers, Ben Hanlan, Jake McCann (New England), Michael Dillon, Logan Hunter, Ben Kelly, Nic Milne (Lithgow), Ben Ferguson (Central Coast), Zac Nyrhinen (Illawarra South Coast), David Reid (Sydney East), Dean Robertson, Jed Schofield, Gus Schofield (Goulburn), Matter Scurr (Far North Coast)
WANT MORE ORANGE AND REGIONAL SPORT?
- Receive our free newsletters delivered to your inbox, as well as breaking news alerts. Sign up below ...