Orange's Adam Hurford will make his NSW debut at the Hockey Australia Men's Masters National Championships and ahead of the trip to Bunbury in Western Australia he had two overwhelming feelings - excitement, and nerves.
The 41-year-old drag-flick expert was irrepressibly excited to represent his state for the first time but that's not where the nerves come in, no, he was biting his nails about flying west.
"Well, yeah, I've never been on a plane in my life and I am a bit uneasy about flying," Hurford said with a laugh, having touched down safely by time of publication.
There's a fair contingent from Orange which is great.Adam Hurford
Hurford will line up alongside Scott and Rowan Baker and Quentin Anderson in the over-40 Australian titles, the quartet have all been named in the NSW2 outfit while Peter Tattersall is in the over-45 equivalent, and Darryn Marjoram will front for the sky blues' top tier over-50 side.
Grant Michell will also turn out in the over-45 tournament, but he'll be playing for South Australia's second side. The Men's Masters National Championships start on Friday.
"It is my first time playing for NSW. I got a spot back in an under-13 merit team but we didn't play, so does that count?" Hurford laughed.
"I'm stoked, I'm really looking forward to it. I was a shadow initially but someone must have pulled out and I got the call-up about three days after named the squads.
"It'll be good to get out there with Scott and Rowan Baker too, and Quentin. With Marj and Tatts, and Grant, heading over as well there's a fair contingent from Orange which is great."
There won't just be a "fair" contingent of Orange players at the men's national titles either, with Leanne Kennewell (over-35), Deb Orrock (over-60) and Kerrie Wood (over-65) all donning state colours at the women's tournaments on the Gold Coast, they start on Thursday.
Former Orange stars Mel Mendham and Naomi Sparks are also in the over-45 side, while Michelle Stevenson, Sammi Vennard and Jane Rowlands will manage the over-45, over-60 and over-60 sides respectively.
Lindl Taylor is also coaching the over-55 outfit.
"I think that's a fair nod to the longevity of Orange's men and women, a lot of people keep playing for a long time and obviously stay involved in the managing and coaching sides too, which is great," Hurford said.
"For the players the nationals are a bit different because we're not running around against 20-year-olds, the skill level is still very high but the pace does slow down a bit. Playing against the younger players week-to-week definitely helps when you go to the next level though."
While the elder tournaments will remain two-division competitions the over-40 championship has been combined this year, with that in mind Hurford said a top four finish is probably the initial goal for his NSW side.
They're likely to come up against the likes of Victoria and Queensland once they get there, those two sides are the reigning division one and two champions respectively.
They'll face the former side in their third preliminary game too, after facing South Australia then Western Australian in their opening two games.
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