New Hockeyroos, same drive
MACKAY Hockeyroo Kirstin Dwyer is confident the national side's new "positive environment” can spark a resurgence for the former world number one ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
As the Hockeyroos prepare to take on Japan in the 3 Day Test Series opener Wednesday evening in Adelaide at 6.30pm (AEST), Dwyer said a new coaching staff, led by Paul Gaudoin, had regained players' "trust”, after a tumultuous 2016.
Dwyer said the period, which led to the sacking of former coach Adam Commens after he allegedly exposed himself and made lewd remarks to a group of Hockeyroos at the Rio Olympics, was firmly in the past.
"The new coaching staff that have stepped in have created a positive environment, and we trust our coaching staff again,” she said.
"Everyone takes on a role, and it's encouraged as being part of the Hockeyroos to have a say, whether you're a 100 gamer or have played two games. We're all encouraged to step up and play a role and it's a great environment we've created.
"Going forward we're really happy with it at this stage.”
Making her debut in 2013, the 28-year-old has 127 caps for her country and sees a bright future in the green and gold as a new generation of stars begins to emerge.
While Australia lost to Japan 3-2 at the International Festival of Hockey in Melbourne at the weekend, Dwyer said the squad had reviewed the match following the loss and were confident they'd identified which areas they need to focus on to get a result.
"We've taken a step back and had a look at the footage (from the loss), and I think Japan are an exceptionally fast team and we need to limit their attacking opportunities,” she said of the review.
"They're lethal going forward and they're effective with their corners, so shutting them down is important.”
Win or lose, Dwyer said there had been many positives for the rebuilding side, with experience and exposing players at the international level the main focus for the Hockeyroos.
While currently ranked number four in the world, Dwyer is confident the side is building the nucleus necessary to return the former number one back to the top of world hockey, but patience was required.
"After our last Olympic preparation, we're trying to rebuild and trying to work with different athletes and giving them exposure is good,” she said.
"We're just trying to work out who works well with who, but I'm pretty sure the side going forward is an exciting one. I have no doubt we can get back to where we want to be, but it'll take time.”
Now an elder statesman of the side, Dwyer is firmly entrenched in the Hockeyroos' set-up as she makes her way back from a bout of glandular fever.
Focussed on being part of Australia's Commonwealth Games squad, the girl who grew up on a Mackay cane farm said wearing the green and gold in her home state was a "driving force”.
"You can never guarantee that (selection), but I'll definitely be putting my best foot forward and putting my hand up for the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
"I'm aspiring to it, and obviously you need to have it in the back of your mind so you're pushing yourself to be continuously better.”