THE Northern Inland Academy of Sport hockey girls had a special visitor drop by their training session yesterday – Hockeyroo Kate Jenner.
Jenner is back home for a few weeks over Christmas and spoke to the girls about her experiences as a NIAS athlete, elevation from local Tamworth player to the Jillaroos (Australian U21s) and then national team, and goal-setting among other things.
She is fresh from helping the Hockeyroos win silver at the inaugural World League tournament in Tucuman, Argentina.
It was Jenner’s second tournament back after recovering from a fractured foot, which she sustained during the Korean Test series earlier in the year.
“I was out for all-up about four months,” Jenner said.
She missed the World League semi-finals, three Test matches against Argentina and the Australian Hockey League as a result, but fought her way back into the side for last month’s Oceania Cup in New Zealand.
As frustrating a year as it’s been for Jenner though, it’s been a good one for the Hockeyroos.
They’ve improved their world ranking from six to four and are just four points off third-placed England.
“We’re really happy with how we went,” Jenner said about the World League finals.
“Obviously we’re disappointed with finishing second but all the steps we made this year are heading in the right direction.”
She credits the improvement to being fitter and faster across the whole squad.
“At the start of the year we did a lot of conditioning and a lot of hard training,” she said.
“It’s allowed us to get physically better.”
The flow-on effect is they’ve also improved technically.
Their performance at the finals, which featured the top eight teams in the world, have also set them up well for next year.
“At the World League finals we definitely gave it to New Zealand,” Jenner said.
They beat them 5-1.
“We haven’t beaten them by that margin for a long time,” she said.
They’ve also put doubts into England’s minds. The Hockeyroos haven’t lost to them for about two years, Jenner said.
It’s similar with Germany. They seem to be able to beat them in the big games.
After spending Christmas with her family, Jenner will return to Perth early in the New Year.
The Hockeyroos then head to South Africa for a three-Test series against them, and four-Test series against the world number one Dutch.
“We’re taking over the whole squad, taking our training base from Perth to South Africa,” Jenner said.
Their main focus next year is the World Cup in The Hague from May 31-June 15.
The Hockeyroos have been drawn in Pool A alongside the Dutch, New Zealand, Korea, Japan and Belgium.
That will be followed by the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow (July 23-August 3) and Champions Trophy in Tucuman (November 29- December 7), all of which Jenner would love to feature in.