Locals anticipate national competition

Circular Head athletes Elyse Poke, Tomas Coker, Sam Porteus-Smith and Henry Wright haven’t spent much time away from the turf as they prepare for the 2017 Australian Championships. Picture: Ashleigh Force.

Hockey. In preparation for the 2017 Australian Championships, four local talents have trained tirelessly for the trials ahead.

Following a three-week break at the end of the season, Sam Porteus-Smith, Elyse Poke, Tomas Coker and Henry Wright were back at it shortly after.

Debuting in the annual national tournament in 2013 with the Tasmanian Under 13 squad, Porteus-Smith represented the state a second time last year. Now he prepares to represent in his home state with the Under 18s. To be held in Hobart from Wednesday April 19 to Saturday April 29, the 16-year-old is keenly anticipating the competition.

“It’s more men’s hockey now, we’re in the big league,” he says of the increased standard.

Featuring in the Greater Northern League this season, Porteus-Smith trains weekly with the Emerging Talent Squad, a selection only training initiative.

In her second appearance at the Australian Championships after debuting with the Tasmanian U/12s,  Poke will now travel to Liverpool, New South Wales with the U/15s from Wednesday April 5 to Thursday April 13.

A versatile player, the 15-year-old uses her speed and agility to her advantage easily weaving her way past opposition, however still expects challenges ahead.

“We’re older now, so it’s hard to say how everyone has improved,” she says.

Selected as shadow players, Tomas Coker, 13, and Henry Wright, 13, will also travel to Liverpool with the U/15s should they make the final squad.

Debuting in the U/13s in Perth, Western Australia last year, the pair have been vigorously training in anticipation for this year’s championship.

Coker, who was one of three goalies to try out this year, says fitness has been a focus for the pair in recent months as they take part in weekly regional training.

Wright says last year’s competition set a benchmark for players to work to.

“It was a great experience,” he says. 

“What let down Tassie was probably our basic ball skills.

“It’s a lot different from playing in a normal competition, to an Australian competition.”

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