By KATE ALLMAN
The JDH Hockey One League merry-go-round of ins and outs is spinning fast this week.
An international series will pull young stars from club ranks, and the NSW Pride men ring the changes for their mid-season clash in Canberra. Plus, your first glimpse at a special Pride round in week five.
These are the biggest JDH Hockey One League stories heading into this weekend.
Young guns out
The depth of squads will be tested in Round 4 as the Australian U21 Men’s Team, the Burras, head to Malaysia, taking a host of star players with them.
Big name talent including Josh Brooks, Cooper Burns, Brodee Foster, Liam Henderson and Jack Holland will compete in the Sultan of Johor Cup, an annual international Under 21 tournament.
The Burras team also includes the Tassie Tigers’ Round 3 player of the match and defender of the island Max Larkin, who was impenetrable in goals against the Perth Thundersticks last week.
The Tigers will bring back Henry Chambers to fill the enormous pads of Larkin. Chambers had a season to remember last year and stood up during a memorable shootout to earn an underdogs win against the Thundersticks in 2022.
The Burras take on Great Britain in Pool A in their first match of the Sultan of Johor Cup on Friday night at 9.05pm AEDT. Just remember you’ll need to get two screens running to catch the end of Friday’s Hockey One double header between Brisbane Blaze and Tassie Tigers in Queensland.
All matches of the Sultan of Johor Cup will be streamed live and free with links to each match available here.
Major shakeup for NSW Pride Men
After tallying the highest score ever in Hockey One history last week, the NSW Pride men need to find a way to win against the Canberra Chill without some key weapons.
Kookaburras Lachi Sharp, Blake Govers, Ky Willott and Flynn Ogilvie are all missing from last weekend’s mammoth win over HC Melbourne. Meanwhile Nathan Czinner is with the Burras in Malaysia, while they will also be without captain Jack Hayes.
On the women’s side, Hockeyroo Mariah Williams will miss the clash against the Chill. However, Grace Stewart comes back into the team to take her powerful place up front.
The NSW Pride women will no doubt welcome back Stewart’s goal magnetism after their grinding 1-1 shootout loss to HC Melbourne on Sunday. Stewart’s epic one-touch-bang goal against the Brisbane Blaze in Round 2 is still one of the best we’ve seen in 2023.
Can Brisbane crack the 2,000?
The Tassie Tigers fly to Queensland in Round 4 to play Brisbane in the Blaze’s highly anticipated second home fixture of the season.
The Blaze’s Round 2 clash against NSW Pride attracted one of the biggest crowds Hockey One has seen, with more than 1,600 fans in attendance. If the Blaze can reach 2,000 it will claim a new record for a Hockey One regular season game.
To help inspire the fans, Kookaburras midfielder Daniel Beale returns to take on the Tigers. He will be joined by goal magnet Cale Cramer, who was a late withdrawal in Round 2.
A round to be proud of
Here’s something to look forward to next weekend. NSW will host a ‘Pride in Pride’ round, celebrating LGBTQI+ diversity when they host the Tassie Tigers on Saturday 4 November.
Expect rainbow face paint, Pride flags flying and Pride-themed music booming out of the DJ decks (the playlist is Kylie Minogue-heavy). The Tassie Tigers will partner in the event and wear rainbow socks on the pitch. Captains from both teams will read out inclusion statements when they walk out. Hockeyroo and NSW Pride player Greta Hayes will take a leading role as the AIS Pride Ambassador for 2023. More details to come next week.