Hockeyroos skipper says 'our time is now'
OUR time is now.
That is the message from captain Emily Smith as the Hockeyroos' post-Rio rebuild reaches a Commonwealth Games crescendo on the Gold Coast.
Sixth-placed flops at the 2016 Olympics, the one-time queens of world hockey have embarked on a generational transformation over the past two years.
Results during that period have been inconsistent - they have claimed series wins over Japan, Spain and China in the last six months but missed last year's World League Final - but Smith is adamant they are ready for their shot at a fourth-straight Games gold medal.
"We used the excuse last year that we were in a rebuilding stage. We're not using that anymore, we're here to win," Smith said of the fifth-ranked Aussies.
"We've been together now for a year-and-a-half as a squad and we're really confident we can get the job done if we perform consistently. In Rio we were a very structured team and … the last two years has been quite fluid and free.
"We've been playing hockey how we learned as a kid and everyone's bringing their individual flair. That's something that we've had to now reign in because we're coming down to the nitty-gritty and the set plays and all the other things that go with hockey.
"But the fact we've been playing with that freedom and flexibility has brought back this confidence maybe that was our downfall in Rio - other teams knew we were structured and how we were going to go at them. Some of the teams that have never played against Australian sides (won't have seen the style) that we're going to be producing."
The Hockeyroos' 18-strong squad features 10 Games debutants and Smith stressed finding consistency within the group would determine the fate of this year's campaign.
"I guess with the inexperienced team that's something we struggle with, the inconsistency and being able to perform day in, day out. We do it at training but once it comes to the pressure games you can see some of the inexperienced kids that haven't been here before.
"So that's something that, as the leadership group, we're going to have to drive and make sure that we're performing at a base level that's here rather than going up and down the whole tournament.
"If we can stick to our base level we can win these Games."
■ April 5 (4:30pm) - Canada
■ April 7 (9:30pm) - Ghana
■ April 9 (9:30pm) - New Zealand
■ April 10 (9:30pm) - Scotland
■ April 12 - semi finals
■ April 14 - medal matches