Tassie Tigers coach Glenn Freeman proud of state's international potential

Eddie Ockenden at 2017 Australian Hockey League. Picture: Click InFocus

Eddie Ockenden at 2017 Australian Hockey League. Picture: Click InFocus

Tassie Tigers coach Glenn Freeman is optimistic the state could be about to break new ground in international representation.

Men’s hockey is a fertile breeding ground for Tasmanian elite representation with the state providing at least one player at each of the last six Olympic hockey tournaments, winning nine medals between them.

Despite Tasmania finishing a disappointing seventh at the Australian Hockey League in Perth last week, Freeman believes his charges have plenty to offer the Kookaburras.

Experienced captain Eddie Ockenden, Jeremy Edwards and Josh Beltz were named in the national team for this week’s Oceania Cup in Sydney but Freeman said dumped defender Tim Deavin plus young guns Kurt Mackey and Kieron Arthur are capable of playing roles.  

Asked how many Olympians Tasmania could provide in 2020, Freeman said: “If I was a betting man I’d be looking at three, but it could be four.”

The man who led the Tigers to a historic maiden national title in 2014 said the group continues to look up to Ockenden, who will be targeting a fourth Olympics in Tokyo hoping to improve on his two bronze medals.

“Eddie’s still going strong,” Freeman said. “He’s still super talented and very dangerous. He’s just a wizard with the ball and still very passionate about the game. He’s a great leader for the Tigers.

“And Deavo just goes out to win. He gets out there, trains hard, plays hard and works hard. That’s Deavo.”

Freeman said Edwards and Beltz are reaping the rewards of being in the national training group while Mackey and Arthur are knocking on Kookaburras coach Colin Batch’s door.

“Jez is our centre-half, directing traffic and getting very involved. He adds a lot of quality to the group while Josh is our sweeper and a very talented, classy player. He’s doing all the right things.

“Kieren has been playing very well. He said he wanted to go into the back four and has been very solid there and also very creative turning defence into attack. He would be deserving of a call-up. He was the leading goal-scorer at the AHL so must be doing something right.

“Kurt is in the Australian development group and brings a lot to the table. He’s very quick with good skills, is very fit and can break lines and as a midfielder that’s what you want.”