Tamworth’s Emily Chaffey, Abigail Doolan, Ehren Hazell, Jeremy Blakely and Harper Galvin have stashed away the chocolate and are ready to hook in for NSW as they shoot for National U18s Championship glory.
The quintet fly down to Hobart on Monday ahead of the tournament start on Wednesday, where Chaffey and Doolan will line up for the NSW State girls side, Hazell the State boys and Blakely and Galvin the Blues boys.
New England’s Darby Chalmers will also feature for the Blues boys, Sarah Askey and Mia Emanuel the Blues girls and Tahlia Constance the State girls, who will be coached by Blair Chalmers.
The Hockey NSW participation manager, and Armidale native, put them through a rigorous session at their final training camp the other weekend as they look to go one better than their silver last year.
“It was tough. Blair said he wanted to physically demand us,” Doolan said.
She and Chaffey are well-schooled on what the Nationals are all about, having been regular fixtures in NSW sides since they were in the U13s. Only a few months ago Chaffey played for the NSW 18s at the Indoor Nationals.
Both have been in good touch for their respective Tamworth sides, and will carry in the extra motivation of Hobart being their final campaign as juniors.
“We want to finish on a high,” Chaffey said.
It has been something of a happy hunting ground for them, winning gold with the U15s a few years back.
The talented duo are among a handful backing up from the side that played in Launceston last year, and are optimistic about their chances.
“I think we’ll be deadly in attack. We’ve got a lot of speed up front,” Doolan said.
That will be balanced with what Chaffey described as a fairly calm and composed midfield and a strong defensive unit.
They do though have a tough pool. They start off with reigning champions Queensland and are also drawn to play the Blues girls.
The State boys similarly go into the tournament looking to improve on their runner-up finish last year.
Hazell was part of that side and duly adjudged NSW’s player of the tournament.
For Galvin, who still has another year in the 18s, Hobart will be his third Nationals, all three of which have been played in Tasmania.
“I played 15s in Hobart two years ago and then last year in Launceston,” he said.
The South United striker played for the Blues and helped them finish fifth, which was a pretty good result.
This year they are aiming to take that next step and make the semi-finals.
Galvin said the side has come together pretty well and is pretty well balanced.
“We’re strong across the park. It’s just a matter of putting it together,” he said.
They have got, on paper, a pretty good draw. They play Western Australia, which will be tough Galvin said, but have avoided the likes of Queensland and Victoria and their NSW counterparts. The round games run through to next Monday with the medals decided on April 29.