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Hockeyroos to blend youth with experience
By Guy Hand
21:00 AEST Tue Jun 19 2012

In less than six weeks, Hockeyroos coach Adam Commens will know if his rebuilding of the Australian women's hockey team has produced the finished article ahead of time.

Commens took over the team 18 months ago with a remit to rebuild, convinced he would have a formidable unit for the 2014 World Cup - with any Olympic Games medal a bonus.

Now both the coach and his players believe they have improved enough to challenge for a medal in London and make a lie of their world No.7 ranking.

The 16-player squad for the Games named on Tuesday has seven players with Olympic experience, but four under the age of 23.

Among them is 19-year-old striker Emily Smith from NSW's Southern Tablelands.

Skipper Madonna Blyth admits the Hockeyroos will go in as underdogs and they have no problem with that mantle, believing it could work to their advantage.

"In terms of all the other international teams we are probably falling under the radar a little bit," Blyth said on Tuesday.

"They're ahead of us on paper but for us it's about going out there and playing at our best.

"We might be ranked No.7 but a medal is the goal and when we are at our best there's a chance."

Experienced defender Kobie McGurk and midfield gun Casey Eastham add undoubted quality to the team, while goalkeeper Toni Cronk is also set to become a dual Olympian - eight years after she played in Athens.

NSW defender Kate Jenner has been picked to fill the void left by Jade Warrender, who suffered a serious knee injury last month to rule her out of London.

The Hockeyroos impressed during the London Cup last week, though a 4-1 loss to world No.1 the Netherlands in the final perhaps exposed a gulf.

"We believe in this group, but we know the next six weeks are so important to our Olympic campaign," Commens said.

"We have identified the areas we need to dramatically improve on if we are to challenge for a medal at the Games."

The Hockeyroos' opening match in London is against New Zealand on July 29.

Hockeyroos' Olympic Games squad: Teneal Attard (QLD), Madonna Blyth (QLD), Fiona Boyce (WA), Jade Close (NSW), Toni Cronk (NSW), Casey Eastham (NSW), Anna Flanagan (ACT), Kate Jenner (NSW), Kobie McGurk (WA), Hope Munro (WA), Georgia Nanscawen (VIC), Ashleigh Nelson (WA), Megan Rivers (NSW), Jodie Schulz (QLD), Emily Smith (NSW), Jayde Taylor (WA).

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