If there was not already enough motivation for the Kookaburras in their Olympic Semi Final against Germany, the match will carry extra significance for one of the team’s integral figures.
Co-captain Aran Zalewski will run out in a Kookaburras shirt for the 200th time when they take on Germany for a place in the Olympic Final.
The midfielder affectionately known as ‘Moose’ has been a mainstay for the Kookaburras throughout this Olympic cycle.
A dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Zalewski was named the Player of the Tournament in the inaugural FIH Pro League as the Kookaburras lifted the trophy.
He was also part of the all-conquering 2014 World Cup winning Kookaburras team.
Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch, who has seen the 30 year old develop from a junior into one of the world’s best hockey players, says the regard Zaelwski is held in is highlighted by the impact he and fellow co-captain Eddie Ockenden have on the team.
“Aran and Eddie form a great partnership for the team as co-captains,” said Batch.
“Aran not only leads by example, but his leadership has grown over the years since Mark Knowles retired.
“It has been a pleasure to watch him and the way he operates. He’s so positive around the group, he’s a very important player for us strategically and he gives us a really good balance in the midfield and has a calming influence on the team.”
“I had the pleasure of coaching Aran as a junior coming through – he played with my son – and to see his growth and work with him over a long period of time and over the past five years has been excellent.”
Heralding from Margaret River in Western Australia, Zalewski made his debut back in 2011 against India.
Now almost a decade later, he will front up for game 200 but the milestone will be the furthest thing from his mind as he attempts to help the Kookaburras reach the Gold Medal match in Tokyo.