Four Western Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holders have been named in the Kookaburras squad for the 2013 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
The 18 man squad has been selected with one eye towards the future, with five debutants selected for the tournament named after the ninth King of Malaysia.
Chris Bausor, Craig Boyne, Trent Mitton and Aran Zalewski will all represent WA in the tournament that runs from March 9-17.
The longest serving invitational tournament in the world will showcase six of the world’s best teams in a Round-Robin fixture.
Australia is the most successful team in history having won six titles, their most recent being in 2011.
Four nations from the 2012 Melbourne Champions Trophy will again meet, alongside two additional Asian nations.
A resurgent force in world hockey, India (world ranking 11) will meet the Kookaburras in their opening match. India will attempt to capture an equal record holding sixth title off the back of a successful Hockey India League in India where the best 70 Indian players were exposed to the highest level of hockey in the world.
The world number two Kookaburras will face 2012 Champions Trophy bronze medallist and Asian Champions Trophy winner, Pakistan (world ranking 5) in their second round match.
Reigning 2012 Champions New Zealand (world ranking 6) will hope to continue to progress under Australian Coach, Colin Batch after finishing seventh at the 2012 Melbourne Champions Trophy.
Eighth ranked nation in the world Korea will join hosts Malaysia (13) to round out the six nation’s tournament.
Kookaburras Coach Ric Charlesworth will send over a strong team to claim its seventh title, including seven 2012 Champions Trophy gold medallists George Bazeley, Joel Carroll, Andrew Charter, Trent Mitton, Glenn Simpson, Jacob Whetton and Tristan White.
"With five debutants and a handful of players with only a few caps each, it’s a great opportunity to develop the depth as part of the refreshment and renewal of our list.”
"We have three players from our 2012 Olympic team and we are looking to achieve the high results that this group has been accustomed too over the last five years,” Charlesworth said.
Lightning quick striker Jacob Whetton is still on a high after the 2012 Melbourne Champions Trophy gold medal.
"It’s always a proud moment being selected for the Kookaburras and I’ve got the opportunity to add a second gold medal to the cabinet in the space of three months.”
"We’ve got an exciting group of new players debuting in the green and gold and it shows how solid our squad depth is when you can debut five players at such a prestigious international tournament,” Whetton said.
The tournament offers 2013 National Squad debutant Josh Miller a taste of the big time after being ruled out of the 2012 Champions Trophy with a calf tear.
27 year old Miller says "it’s a sign of relief being selected to play my first game after missing out last year.”
"It’s a special feeling getting picked to represent your country. I’ll be playing alongside guys like Daniel Mirecki who I’ve been playing against for many years and we get to debut together on the world stage,” Miller said.
2004 Olympic gold medallist Rob Hammond will play a key leadership role for the Kookaburras as the most experienced player in the team.
"I’m excited to be heading over to Malaysia for the Azlan Shah Cup, it’s a great tournament with strong international competition, and the group are looking forward to the challenge.”
"The tournament is a great proving ground for senior and young players under trying conditions in Malaysia,” Hammond said.