Albany trio named in State under-18s sides

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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An unprecedented three Lower Great Southern Hockey Association youngsters will represent the region at this month’s Hockey Australia under-18 Australian Championships in Hobart.

Sophie McDonald will play for WA in the women’s championships while Karel Cronje joins her in WA colours, part of the men’s side, and the third local heading over will be Harry Keymer, who will run out for the Northern Territory men’s side.

Cronje, Keymer and fellow LGSHA player Hennie Botha travelled to Darwin recently for a warm-up tour as the WA 18s side played a three-game series against the NT 18s, which were curtain raisers to the Kookaburras and Pakistan Test series.

Botha was part of the WA side, along with Cronje, as they took on Keymer in NT colours.

The national championships run from April 19 to 29 at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre, with each of the three LGSHA players coming from vastly different paths to get to the event.

Cronje, 15, will compete at his third national championships having represented WA at under-13 and under-15 level in the past.

“I feel comfortable at a national level but the step up to 18s has been big,” Cronje said.

“I will play predominantly as an inner and some half back as well.

“We won the last two years and I think we can do it again.

“Darwin was an awesome experience with the atmosphere and crowd.”

McDonald, 16, has overcome missing out in previous years to earn her first State selection.

“I’m still in a bit of disbelief — it’s been a long road and it’s slowly sinking in,” she said.

“I’m excited to go and hopefully take everything in that happens.

“We’ve set ourselves high standards so hopefully we can make the grand final or win a gold medal.”

Keymer, 16, put the disappointment of missing out on the final WA team and will be part of a composite NT side, with an agreement between WA and NT allowing players who haven’t been picked to help strengthen their side.

“It’s a great opportunity to get some experience and play with people I don’t know,” Keymer said.

“I went away with WA in the 13s.

“I met all the guys up in Darwin and learnt how they play — the temperature and humidity made it hard but it was good to play before the Kookaburras.”

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