Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth admits he's feeling a tad nervous ahead of the London Olympics, but says he has a few tricks up his sleeve that will hopefully help the men's hockey team bring home gold.
Charlesworth is a master coach who guided the Hockeyroos to Olympic gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games and again in Sydney four years later.
Since taking over the men's team in 2009, Charlesworth has transformed the Kookaburras into world beaters, with the side notching Champions Trophy, World Cup and Commonwealth Games success.
Given the recent history, the Kookaburras rightfully enter the Olympics as hot gold medal favourites and with the No.1 world ranking.
But not everything has gone to plan in the lead-up to London, with the injury-forced withdrawal of star striker Des Abbott a massive blow to the team.
Charlesworth is confident the Kookaburras possess the flexibility and talent required to cover Abbott and any other potential injuries, and said rival teams should expect to see a few new moves from his all-conquering outfit.
"I think we've got a lot of things up our sleeve that no one else has seen," Charlesworth said on Wednesday.
"There are lots of things that we have that we haven't shown that may make a difference.
"But you may never get to use them. That's the reality of it.
"You may have a particular penalty corner you want to use and you might not win one, so who knows?"
With less than three weeks to go until the Kookaburras' first group game, Charlesworth said it was a stressful time and admitted to some natural nerves.
"I think that's normal. Everyone gets nervous," Charlesworth said.
"It would be unusual not to because you never know what's going to happen in any particular game.
"You can have the best tactics and game plan and, five minutes into the game, you have to do something different.
"That requires real flexibility and ability to think on your feet. Hopefully, the players have that capability and we, as the coaches, will tinker at the edge to hopefully make a difference if we can."
Defender Fergus Kavanagh, who was part of the side that claimed bronze at the 2008 Games in Beijing, said the hype surrounding the Kookaburras hadn't fazed the players.
"I don't feel like it's a weight of expectation," Kavanagh said.
"We're going in as favourites and No.1, but we go into every tournament as the No.1 favourites.
"Once the games get going and start, you kind of lose yourself in the moment. We just try to enjoy it."