Launceston is squaring up for Australia's best under-18 hockey players to descend upon its fields at St Leonards this Thursday.
The one-week tournament will see state/territory teams duke it out after the championship was cancelled last year due to COVID-19.
Women's coach Susan Brooks said her team was ready and rearing to go last year when the cancellation came through, weeks before games were set to start.
"So [this year's] a really good opportunity to show the other states what we can do," she said.
"We've got about at least half who were in the [under] 18s team last year who are still here ... they were breathing a sigh of relief when everything settled down and it became evident we'd have the tournament again."
Two Launceston players named to the women's side, Izzie McRobbie and Amelia Duffy, were eager to play in front of a home crowd for the nationals.
"Having all that ... there was a lot of extra fitness work because we couldn't go on the turf so we had to make up for that," Duffy said.
"When we got back on the turf, it was good to be back playing and get back into the groove of things."
The two Queechy Penguins have played at previous age group nationals, and said their teammates have remained largely consistent making for a well-bonded team.
"It's pretty much been the same people throughout all of the juniors ... we built friendships in the team which helps us then on the field," McRobbie said.
Brooks said the young team had plenty of promise ahead of this week's nationals and beyond.
"We only have two girls who are of-age (18 years old), most of the other girls have one or two years after this year," she said.
"It's a really promising team for the future."
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
Men's under-18 coach Keegan Popowski said his squad was hungry to get amongst the competition after being starved for 12 months.
"I think myself and the boys are just excited to have some competition after having more than a year without any - we're really looking forward to it," Popowski said.
He said the Southern Tasmania's Premier League competition restarted earlier than others across the country.
"It'll be interesting to see how that impacts them [other states/territories], they might just be even hungrier to be honest," Popowski said.
The women's team will play in pool a alongside Queensland, NSW State, Victoria Development and Western Australia.
The men's team will play in pool a against NSW Blue, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Popowski said his team would enjoy a re-match against ACT after their last match in 2019.
"We ended up flogging them in the last game, it was our first time getting to a double-digit win," he said.
"We're not saying it'll happen again, but it's usually pretty close between us, ACT and South Australia."
Susan Brooks (coach), Caroline Rockefeller (manager), Eilene Carr (asst coach), Maddison Brooks, Taylor Brooks, Maeve Bylsma, Madison Clark, Beth Dobbie, Emma Fenner, Victoria Fish, Zayna Jackson, Isabelle Kruimink, Ansa Le Grange, Ellie McDonald, Izzie McRobbie, Emma O'Grady, Emily Rockefeller, Cami Vaughan, Felicity Wilson-Haffenden, Amelia Duffy, Becky Bentley, Lily Bushby.
Keegan Popowski (coach), Jon Cooper (manager), Nathan Dart (asst coach), Sam Colrain, Chris Colrain, Angus Cooper, Milo Gee, Ruben Hoey, Kiah House, Max Johnstone, Max Larkin, Richter Marx, Magnus McCausland, Luke Palmer, Sam Payne, Jack Pritchford, Oliver Pritchford, Tom Rasmussen, Lachlan Rogers, Jaxon Sproule, Jamie Mitchell, Jack Williams, Henry Wright.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.