Australian under-23 hockey player Jordyn Holzberger preparing for a previous national trip.
Australian under-23 hockey player Jordyn Holzberger preparing for a previous national trip. Rob Williams

Sara’s focused on SW Qld as Jordyn called up for Australia

AUSTRALIAN Country captain Sara Rogers wishes former Hancocks teammate Jordyn Holzberger the best after she withdrew from this weekend's Super League hockey championships.

Yamanto-based midfield/ striker Holzberger has been called into the Australian under-23 squad touring England from Saturday until June 27.

Holzberger, 22, has been one of Ipswich's most successful hockey players for a number of years involved in national teams at open and under-21 level.

She's represented Australia more than 30 times since 2012.

The former Ipswich Girls' Grammar School student has also shared in Queensland team success at national championships.

However, being included in the latest Australian under-23 squad is a timely opportunity for Holzberger with a number of Hockeyroos players possibly retiring after the Rio Olympics.

Hancocks skipper Rogers played alongside Holzberger a number of seasons in the Ipswich competition before she moved to Perth for a scholarship under the national development program.

Since returning from Western Australia, Holzberger joined Valleys in the Brisbane competition, where dual registered Ascot team member Rogers has played against her.

"She's been in good form,'' Rogers said of Holzberger.

"It's great for her.

"She might get a good chance at the Hockeyroos again.''

The Australian under-23 side will play a series of competitive matches in Nottingham.

Hockey Australia said the tour was to provide the players exposure to a higher level of competition against British and Dutch counterparts. The tournament is structured in a similar manner to the Champion's Trophy, in which the Hockeyroos are competing.

While Holzberger prepares to fly out on Friday, Rogers is focused on helping South West Queensland at the latest Super League titles starting the same day.

Rogers, 28, has been part of the South West team since the Super League was formed five years ago.

"I enjoy playing Super League,'' halfback/defender Rogers said.

"It's good quality hockey definitely.

"I think we've got a very very young (SWQ) team. I feel quite old actually.

"We have got a lot of youth, a lot of speed and definitely a lot of skill.

"The girls are very fit and fast.''

Both South West teams - the Lumberjacks men and Lumberjills women - feature leading Ipswich and Toowoomba players.

Ipswich connection

This year's South West women's team includes Ipswich's most exciting prospects including Layla Eleison, Gabby Nicholls, Jade Emblem and Lauren Hess, linking with more seasoned performers like Rogers, Bridget McLean and Natalie Davison.

Toowoomba player Ainsely Bell replaces Holzberger in the side.

The South West Queensland men's combination includes Ipswich-based players goalkeeper Cade Banditt along with Kai Douglas, Tobias Figura, Chris Mantell, Caleb McCoombes, Aaron O'Bierne, Jay Pavitt, Mark Pocock and Nathan Smith.

However, Jarrod Brown had to withdraw from this year's tournament with a recurring hamstring injury.

He recently impressed for the Queensland under-21 side at the national titles.

His replacement is Toowoomba player Karl Harland.

Rogers said the main focus of SW Qld preparations was gelling the Ipswich and Toowoomba players.

However, the experienced player said that was becoming smoother each year thanks to an annual series between Ipswich and Toowoomba A-grade teams.

"With the Combined Comp now, we have quite a bit to do with the Toowoomba girls,'' Rogers said. "Even if it's not with them, we sort of know them a bit better.''

Other teams representing major Queensland zones are the Brisbane Fury, the Central Mudturtles, South Coast Sharks, Wide Bay Thunder and Northern Storm.

The South West Queensland women open their campaign at 9.30am on Friday against Wide Bay at the State Hockey Centre.

The SW Qld men also play Wide Bay in their first game at 11am.

Brisbane are the defending men's and women's champions.

The Lumberjacks won the men's titles in 2013 and 2014.

Finals are on Sunday at the Colmslie venue.

Key matches

South West Queensland matches at the State Hockey Centre starting on Friday.

Men: Friday - 11am v Wide Bay; 4.15pm v Northern. Saturday: 11am v South Coast; 4.15pm v Central. Sunday: 9.30am v Brisbane.

Women: Friday - 9.30am v Wide Bay; 1.15pm v Northern. Saturday: 8am v South Coast; 1.15pm v Central. Sunday: 8am v Brisbane.