Grace Stewart named in 25-person Hockeyroos squad

Gerringong's Grace Stewart in action for the Hockeyroos.
Gerringong's Grace Stewart in action for the Hockeyroos.

HOCKEY Australia has announced the 25-member national senior women’s squad for 2018 ahead of a massive year for the Hockeyroos, which includes Gerringong’s Grace Stewart.

The selection panel considered a number of priorities upon selecting the squad, with a view to achieving performance benchmarks at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April and the 2018 World Cup in London in July-August and also with a development view towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The selection panel also sought to reward impressive performances in 2017 along with recognising potential within the daily training environment and competition with inclusion in the squad.

Lily Brazel, Savannah Fitzpatrick and Emily Hurtz have all been included in the squad having all been part of the team during the International Festival of Hockey (IFoH) and Adelaide Test series in November.

Kirstin Dwyer, Georgia Nanscawen, Jacqui Day, Laura Barden and Kate Hanna have been omitted from the squad, although the latter two players will be included in the national development squad which will be confirmed later this week.

“The squad we’ve selected is one that we think can help us achieve our performance benchmarks in 2018 but it’s also a squad that can develop to achieve podium performance in Tokyo,” Hockeyroos head coach Paul Gaudoin said. 

Gaudoin was excited to offer opportunities to Brazel, Fitzpatrick and Hurtz having impressed during their appearances late in the year.

Victorian defender Brazel, 22, made her debut during the IFoH against the United States in Bendigo and impressed in eight appearances, having helped her state win the Australian Hockey League (AHL) in October. 

“Lily has impressed during the opportunities she’s had during the year,” Gaudoin said.

“She started off performing well at the national camp in Canberra in March.

“She followed it up with an impressive visiting athlete opportunity in May prior to the World League semi-finals. 

“She went on the development tour to Japan and impressed there and also played well in the AHL.

“She’s had consistent solid performances throughout the year and has warranted inclusion.”

Queensland 22-year-old forward Fitzpatrick, the sister of current Hockeyroo Madison, scored four goals in eight appearances after her inclusion late in the year, having previously tallied one goal in six caps in 2016.

“Savannah is not dissimilar to Lily where she’s had consistent performances throughout the year,” Gaudoin said.

“Whenever she’s had the opportunity to be involved with us to perform, she’s been able to.

“She’s hit a lot of goals. 

“From a goal scoring perspective, she’s shown that she can cut it at this level and we’re looking forward to seeing what she can do in the next couple of years.”

Experienced forward Hurtz, who was top scorer at the 2017 AHL with champions Victoria, successfully returned to the national set-up for the IFoH and the Adelaide Test series with four goals in eight appearances, having not represented Australia since 2014.

“It’s fantastic that Emily is keen to be involved,” Gaudoin said.

“She was a stand-out performer at the AHL and the last couple of years as well. 

“To have her back in is fantastic.

“She performed really well in her opportunities at the IFoH and in Adelaide.

“She brings a lot of experience as a 27-year-old into our group and is clearly good enough to be there.”

Gaudoin also moved to recognise the contribution of the five players to be omitted from the squad.

Nanscawen, who competed at the 2012 Olympic Games and has made 205 appearances for Australia, has elected to take a break from hockey.

Dwyer, who has tallied 132 caps, is another departing Olympian having competed at last year’s Rio de Janeiro Games, while Day has made 19 appearances after her debut in 2016.

“Georgia and Kirstin have been fantastic players and stalwarts for Australia for a number of years and have given everything to the sport,” Gaudoin said. 

“I commend their efforts and wish them luck in their future, along with Jacqui who has been a great addition to the squad for the past year.

“We’ll give Laura and Kate another opportunity in the national development squad.

“Both are still young and have potential.

“We hope they take their opportunity being involved in the Development Squad to further improve.”

The selection panel have decided to leave two spots open in the 2018 national senior women’s squad, with a squad of up to 27 players permitted.

The final two spots will be decided after the Hockeyroos’ Test series against Spain in January in Perth.

2018 national senior women’s squad:

Jocelyn Bartram (Albury, NSW)

Kristina Bates (Port Melbourne, VIC)

Edwina Bone (Orange, NSW) *Plays for ACT

Lily Brazel (Sydney, NSW) *Plays for VIC

Jane-Anne Claxton (Adelaide, SA)

Ashlea Fey (Sunshine Coast, QLD)

Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) *Plays for QLD

Savannah Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) *Plays for QLD

Jordyn Holzberger (Ipswich, QLD)

Emily Hurtz (Sydney, NSW) *Plays for VIC

Stephanie Kershaw (Townsville, QLD)

Rachael Lynch (Warrandyte, VIC)

Karri McMahon (Berri, SA)

Georgina Morgan (Armidale, NSW)

Gabrielle Nance (Kingscliff, NSW) *Plays for SA

Kaitlin Nobbs (Newington, NSW)

Brooke Peris (Darwin, NT)

Madi Ratcliffe (Warrnambool, VIC)

Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA)

Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW)

Grace Stewart (Gerringong, NSW)

Renee Taylor (Everton Park, QLD)

Ashlee Wells (Morwell, VIC)

Mariah Williams (Parkes, NSW)

Georgia Wilson (Mahogany Creek, WA)