A burning desire to make amends for the Kookaburras’ heartwrenching World Cup semi-final defeat motivates captain Eddie Ockenden to lift Australia towards the top of hockey’s new pro league.
The Tasmanian has been living with the pain of a penalty shootout to Netherlands for the past 26 days since he flew straight back from India.
Ockenden had looked to save the two-time defending champion inside the final seconds when his flick deflected off a Dutch defender on the line to equalise at 2-2.
But his side lost 4-3 from 2-1 down in the tie-breaker.
Ockenden was trying to take the positives out of Australia’s first pro league rematch in Melbourne next month against Netherlands.
“We did a really good job – we have a young team and we played some really good hockey,” Ockenden said.
“We probably played the best we played for two years. That was really encouraging.
“We know the games when it comes to finals and really good teams against the top six or eight in the world, you know you’re going to have a pretty close game.
“In the semi-final when we drew and lost penalties, we probably weren’t quite good enough if you look at it like that. It’s really disappointing not to win the World Cup.”
Ockenden has given the new FIH pro league format a ringing endorsement.
The nine best international teams play a home and away league series of 16 games each around the world.
The 31-year-old said the Kookaburras are determined to have Australia’s name first etched onto the trophy.
“We probably have a really chance to do well,” he said.
“I know every time we go out to play for Australia, we go out to win the tournament and to win this league.
“We want to win every game we play and if we win most games in this pro league, we make finals and then it’s like a tournament.”
After drawing Netherlands first up and world champions Belgium next, Australia will travel to Hobart to face Pakistan and Germany.
The huge occasion of hosting the double-header on February 9 and 10 will be the equivalent to “having an Ashes Test in Hobart”
“We’d love to have this place packed for really good quality opposition. Germany and Pakistan are good teams to watch,” Ockenden said.