Household names in the Tasmanian hockey community, Josh and Hayden Beltz are set to reunite in the JDH Hockey One League for the first time this season for the Tigers’ crucial home clash against Adelaide Fire on Saturday night.
Josh has missed Tassie’s four matches so far due to a finger injury, ironically a setback similar to what prevented Hayden from playing in the Tigers’ season opener. Josh has now been cleared to return in a significant boost to Tassie’s run towards trying to secure a finals berth.
“We’ve just come off a draw with the NSW Pride which is a massive result for us in terms of our development and team belief,” said Hayden.
“We approach every game the same way which is that our best is good enough to beat anyone, so I’m confident if everyone turns up and we play to our potential that we can get the job done.”
For established Kookaburra and returning captain Josh, who has made 102 international appearances and missed just one of the Kookaburras’ 26 matches this year, the opportunity to play the last home game of the season is something he is not taking lightly.
“I love playing for Tasmania, so as soon as the fracture happened I began eying off this weekend as my first game back,” said Josh.
“The Tasmanian hockey community is super close-knit and really gets behind both the Tassie men’s and women’s teams.
“Getting to represent them and also play in front of grandparents, extended family and friends that don’t necessarily get to see you play that often is really special.
“As a state I guess we do punch above our weight and that’s because we’re all really good mates and good friends and we all push each other to achieve.
“Hayden has done an incredible job leading the team while I’ve been away and I’m hoping the boys don’t change much at all when I’m back because they’ve been going really well. I’ll just be looking to assist with all the good work they’ve been producing.”
Having made his Kookaburras debut earlier this year, Hayden has captained the Tigers in Josh’s absence and cites the team’s history of outstanding leaders as his inspiration.
“The Tigers have such a rich history of awesome players but also some of the best leadership in Eddie Ockenden and Tim Deavin and before that the likes of David Guest and Matthew Wells,” said Hayden.
“The depth and experience we have in the squad is incredible with players like Josh, Tim Deavin, Jeremy Hayward, Josh Edwards and Jack Welch, so my job has really just been to show up every week like the other 10 guys on the pitch do.”
For both brothers, every chance to play together is a special occasion. Having played alongside each other at state level for many years, being able to play together for the Kookaburras in Hayden’s debut in March was a moment they will not forget.
“Every time my brother and I get to play together is a really proud moment for me and my family,” said Josh.
“We have a lot of fun out there together and he’s such a competitive, skilled player, so I definitely enjoy having him on my team.”
“I got to present his shirt when we played together in his debut in India against Germany which was arguably the highlight of my career so far.
“Representing Australia is something that not many people get to do and I’m definitely very grateful for that opportunity, and getting to do it with Hayden was incredibly special.”
Hayden said it was a dream come true to run out alongside his brother in a Kookaburras shirt.
“For me, to break into the squad was massive,” said Hayden.
“Josh always thought that we would play together but I was never sure whether or not I’d get the opportunity to debut, so it was awesome to play with him, my best mate Jack Welch, Tassie legend Eddie Ockendon and the rest of the team.
“It was honestly something I didn’t really think was going to happen until I saw my name on the sheet.”
On his short term goals, Hayden said 2024 was looming as an interesting one.
“Team success is individual success for me, so it would be a dream if the Tigers can do really well and win the Hockey One League,” said Hayden.
“Looking forward, I’m still in the Kookaburras development squad, so if I can break into the first squad next year that would be fulfilling a goal I’ve had for a while. It would be an absolute dream to go to the Olympics but I’m just taking it one step at a time.”
Catch the Beltz brothers and the Tassie Tigers against Adelaide Fire LIVE and free from 6.30pm AEDT on 7plus. Gates at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre open at 5pm local time, with the Men’s game at 6:30pm AEDT followed by the women’s match at 8pm AEDT. Tickets are available through Intix.