Redcliffe’s Hannah Cullum-Sanders is the bolter in a 22-player Hockeyroos squad heading to Auckland for the Trans-Tasman Series against New Zealand starting on Tuesday (May 10).
The 18-year-old, who is from Maryborough, is the one addition from outside the Hockeyroos
program selected by Head Coach Katrina Powell for the team’s first
international matches since the Tokyo Olympics.
the selectors first saw Cullum-Sanders, who is in Redcliffe Leagues’ Hockey Club's Premier League
One team, when she was invited to ‘fill in’ at the national selection trials
earlier this year.
As the Moreton Daily reported, her performance at the trials led to selection in the National
Development Squad (tier beneath the Hockeyroos) and now a trip to Auckland and her Hockeyroos debut.
“I got invited to fill in the numbers at the Hockeyroos selection trial in Brisbane and was told to go along and have fun, so I wasn’t putting any pressure or expectation on myself,” she said.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunity and it’s still sinking in as I didn’t think I would be playing hockey for Australia for at least a couple of years if that. To have the opportunity now is amazing.”
It has been a whirlwind 2022 for Cullum-Sanders since she was offered a scholarship at the Queensland Academy of Sport.
“Hannah is a little unknown, a little uncanny and has attributes we want to see in the attacking line,” head coach Powell said.
“She is untested, so this is an opportunity to see how she goes at this level. She’s got good speed, good fitness and a good goal sense so we want to see how she brings that onto the international stage.”
“In a way COVID worked in Hannah’s favour in that we went to several locations for selection trials as opposed to holding one camp in Perth, so that opened up opportunities for those who hadn’t been seen and she was one of those.”
“Hannah then came to Perth on an Athlete Visiting Agreement to train and play among the national squad and she showed her potential.”
Cullum-Sanders’ inclusion comes due to the unavailability of Renee Taylor, a former Redcliffe junior, who continues her recovery from hip surgery last year.
The Trans-Tasman Series, which will feature four double header match days together with the national men’s teams, will be a major selection tool for the FIH Women’s World Cup Spain & Netherlands from 1-17 July plus the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“This series is crucial. Although we are really close to the World Cup it’s another starting point. We had limited international competition before the Olympics last year so it’s a similar situation,' Powell said.
“We have high expectations of what high performance can be even with a lack of international competition, so the games that we have are a really important part of that preparation, both this series and practise matches we have organised in Europe before the World Cup starts.”
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