GERRINGONG’S Monique Isemonger will cap off a successful year of hockey when she tours Fiji with the Australian under-21s Country side in December.
A regular in Gerringong’s first grade women’s team, the 20-year-old’s first Australian jersey will be the third representative side she has been selected for in 2013.
Isemonger captained the South Coast women’s team at the state titles at Macarthur earlier this year, and was rewarded for leading her charges to the final with a spot in the NSW Country side for the National Country Championships, held in Geraldton in August.
‘‘Captaining South Coast was a bit of a surprise,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve got a lot of quality players in that team and being captain was never something that I’d really thought about before.
‘‘Even though we went down in the final I was pretty happy with how I played individually.
‘‘But being chosen in the NSW Country side was something that came as a real shock.’’
NSW has had a stranglehold on the Country titles, winning the past seven tournaments.
Isemonger had some trepidation about taking her place in the side.
‘‘The last seven years NSW has won the tournament and in that time they hadn’t lost a single game, so I didn’t want to come into the side and let everybody down and see that streak snapped.
‘‘[So] when we went down to Queensland in the round-robin stage it was a shock.
‘‘We played them again in the final and they were leading us 2-1 until really late in the game before we got an equaliser, and then won 4-1 in a penalty shootout.
‘‘Coming back to win in that way was amazing.’’
Further jubilation followed for Isemonger when she was informed of her Australian selection.
‘‘I wasn’t even sure that there was a side chosen from the tournament, so when I heard I was picked I was just completely shocked.
‘‘I’d been playing a bit out of position in the NSW side so it took me a while to get used to things.
‘‘For the first few games I was a bit below my best, but I guess I must have picked my game up towards the end.’’
With the season over, Isemonger is now focusing her efforts on training for the Fijian tour, which will consist of six games over 12 days.
‘‘We’ve been given a training plan with the type of fitness and skills training we should do.
‘‘By the time we get to Fiji it will be three months since the season ended, so I’m just focusing on that.
‘‘We play three warm-up games; two against the Fiji under-21s and one against the President’s XI. Then we have three Test matches against Fiji and we do some coaching clinics with Fijian kids.
‘‘Playing for Australia isn’t something a lot of people get to do. I definitely feel pretty privileged to be able to do it, so I’m looking forward to it and it will be the experience of a lifetime.’’