Knowles and team set for Dutch clash

Laura GrubisaNarrogin Observer

With the international hockey series between the Kookaburras and the Netherlands taking place at Narrogin Hockey Stadium this Saturday and Sunday, the Australian side are ramping up their preparations.

Kookaburras defender Mark Knowles joined his team in Perth on Monday as they started the second week of their training camp before heading to Narrogin tomorrow.

“It’s good to get into camp and put 2017 to bed a little bit,” he said.

“This is a good way to start the year.”

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With the Commonwealth Games fast approaching, Knowles said this series was a good test for both sides.

“The Dutch team is one of the best teams in the world, so it’s a good test to see where we’re at, but we’ve also got selection pressure from within,” he said.

“We have 27 guys fighting for 18 spots at the Commonwealth Games, so it’s really important that we gel as a group.”

This series marks the first time both sides have met since the Netherlands knocked Australia out of the quarterfinals in Rio 2016.

“We haven’t played them since then but both teams have changed a lot,” Knowles said.

“We’ve got two extremely good teams finding some rhythm and a new identity after we both had good years in 2017.”

Knowles was a part of the 2016 side that travelled to Narrogin to play Great Britain in extremely wet conditions and is hoping for some warmer weather this time around. “That was possibly the worst weather Australia had ever seen,” he said.

“There won’t be any rain but it will be quite hot (this time).

“The Dutch have been here for 10 to 11 days acclimatising already.”

Knowles grew up in regional Queensland and knows the importance of bringing games to the regions.

“It is absolutely vital to bring the games out to the regions,” he said.

“Our players love playing in different areas and meeting a different group of people who love what we provide.

“As bad as the weather was in 2016, the crowd was still amazing, and it’s a great opportunity for hockey to keep expanding ourselves and doing things differently.

“Playing in different and regional areas is what we need to keep doing for our sport to get better.”

The Kookaburras will arrive in Narrogin tomorrow before having a training session in the afternoon.

Tickets to both games are available on Ticketmaster and limited tickets are still available for the welcome dinner tomorrow night through StickyTickets.

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