He had to watch the first round on Kayo but now Eddie Ockenden is gearing up to lead the Tassie Tigers in their first match of the season.
The Tassie Tigers had the bye in the opening round of the Sultana Bran Hockey One 2019 Season but they are ready to launch in as they host Adelaide Fire in a prime Saturday afternoon slot.
Having only arrived in Hobart last night, we caught up with Ockenden on the eve of their clash with Adelaide Fire.
Thanks for your time Eddie. It must have been tough having to watch on as the league kicked off last weekend. How much are you and your team mates looking forward to getting out there?
EO: “It was a bit different having a bye in the first round. Getting down here (in Hobart) late last night means that the whole team is together for the first time now. Everyone is ready to go and there is a really great feeling amongst the group. There are also a number of young guys coming in for the first time which is awesome.”
There has been a great build up in Tasmania, particularly through the media, for your first home games. Do you get the feeling there is a genuine buzz around the place?
EO: “The hockey community here is fantastic. I think we get amazing support and are lucky with how much the State gets behind us. I think having men’s and women’s teams and a national competition here is really important for the State.
The majority of the squad has been training together for a while now but you only rolled in last night from Perth where you are based for the Kookaburras. Are there difficulties around not being able to train much with the group?
EO: “It’s not difficult but it’s definitely a challenge. I think State teams are used to it now with the national program being based in Perth. We don’t get a lot of opportunities to train with our State teams so it’s not ideal but you get a real energy when you come in and get to be with guys from your home State. The first few games are probably the toughest because you’re trying to get up to speed and get on the same page but it’s not anything new.
The double header is in a prime time Saturday slot. How excited are you about getting into it in front of your home crowd?
EO: “I feel very lucky to be from Tassie. Everyone gets behind you and I’m very proud to be representing Tasmania on the world stage when I play for the Kookaburras. We have been getting great support – we’ve been on a the back and front pages of the newspaper this week and I’m sure the hockey community will turn out in good numbers to watch and support us. And we’re really pushing people who may not have experienced hockey before to come along.
Whenever I have invited people to come and watch for the first time, they think ‘wow, that was awesome’. The aim is to reach out to those people who may not have seen hockey before, bring the kids along and I think it’s a great sport to get kids into playing.”
Your opponents Adelaide Fire were brave against NSW Pride, what are you expecting from them?
EO: “Just thinking back to the Australian Hockey League of previous years, I’ve never had an easy game playing for Tasmania. There is never a game when you think this is going to be easy and I think that’s the strength of the national competition. We’re expecting a very well structured Adelaide Fire team, a team that is going to work really hard which is exactly what we’re going to try and do. I think all games are going to be pretty close in this league.”
With only seven rounds in the season there is no time to be able to slip up if you want to be in the mix for finals. Is that how you see it?
EO: “The competition is so close and only having a top four, you’ve really got to make sure you get enough points along the way, particularly when you play at home.
Finally, the players showed a lot of passion in the opening round which really demonstrated how much playing in the Sultana Bran Hockey One League means to them. What do you think this league has brought to Australian hockey?
“I think everyone has got a lot of excitement about the league. There is a lot of interest and the games are being streamed on Kayo so all of these little things contribute to the energy of the players on the field and everything else that is going on. Can’t wait to be part of it.”