Preview: Great Britain vs Australia

Nick Catlin celebrates scoring against Aus in the World league

After a winning start for both sides in yesterday’s opening Pool A clashes, Great Britain and Australia go head to head later on today to fight for control of the pool.

The Kookaburras are ranked No1 in the world and are regarded as the most consistently successful Australian sports team over the past two decades and for more than 30 years have been ranked amongst the top four nations in the world. Their free-flowing, exciting brand of attacking hockey is a hallmark of the team and has thrilled the fans over the years. Australia have won a medal at every Olympic hockey tournament since 1992 and in total, since first competing in the Melbourne Olympic Games of 1956, have amassed nine Olympic medals. They have won all five of the Commonwealth Games hockey tournaments played to date and in 2014 became only the third country to ever successfully defend a World Cup title when they defeated host nation the Netherlands 6-1 in the competition final in The Hague.

2015 has been another stellar year for the team coached by former Kookaburra Graham Reid, with his men showing outstanding form to win the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final event in Antwerp and, most recently, claim their ninth Oceania Cup by defeating host nation New Zealand in Stratford. The consistent brilliance of midfield ace Eddie Ockenden, veteran striker Jamie Dwyer and defender Mark Knowles – Dwyer’s brother-in-law and FIH Player of the Year for 2014 – played a key role in both successes. The Kookaburras opened up their campaign yesterday with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Belgium thanks to a strike from Jamie Dwyer.

Great Britain made a winning start to this competition as well. Two goals from Simon Mantell and an Alastair Brogdon strike were enough to see off Canada 3-1. Great Britain’s pace and movement in attack was a big positive and the direct running of Nick Catlin was a constant thorn in the Red Caribous’ defence. With Mantell now back from injury and fully firing in front of goal alongside the raw talents of the supreme predators Alan Forsyth and Sam Ward, Great Britain will hope to cause the Australians plenty of problems.

Ward of course has fond memories of playing Australia: his international debut was for England against the Kookaburras and the Holcombe man netted twice in a 3-1 win. He followed that up with a goal in the test match win at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in June. Australia had their revenge two days later with a thumping 6-1 win at Bisham Abbey and then won the clash between the two sides at the World League semi-final.

Forsyth too will be keen to get his name on the scoresheet as his next goal will be his 50th in international hockey, having netted 48 times for Scotland and once for Great Britain.

With Bobby Crutchley ringing the changes for this tournament and giving all of his squad the chance to prove themselves, there is no better chance for them to do that than against the best side in the world.

Today's game is televised live on BT Sport 2 at 3pm. Tune in and show your support for the boys!

GBR vs Aus graphic

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