MIDFIELD maestro Simon Orchard says he has unfinished business in international hockey after his surprise omission on Monday from the Australian team for two upcoming series.
Orchard, a veteran of 209 games for the Kookaburras and two Olympics, was one of a host of senior players overlooked for next month’s trans-Tasman series and International Festival of Hockey.
Five debutants have instead been named in squads that Australia’s interim coach, Tim Gaudoin, said had been chosen with a “clear focus on moving forward to the next four-year cycle as we look to develop a squad for Tokyo 2020’’.
The 30-year-old from Maitland was disappointed and “confused” not to be selected but added: “I don’t disagree with the path they’ve chosen to take. It’s a discovery and development phase and it’s admirable that they’re giving some new guys opportunities.’’
But he was adamant that he still had plenty to offer at the highest level.
“For whatever reason they think that the peak age for a hockey player is between 28 and 30, or maybe 32,’’ he said.
“But there’s no doubt in my mind I can play on for another couple of years. I still feel like a really young 30-year-old.
“I won’t be playing until I’m 37 or anything like that, but for the next 18 months at least, I’m intending to keep playing and my focus will be on the next World Cup, in India in early 2018.’’
Orchard was hopeful that, after the next two tournaments, selectors would reinstate proven performers in the national squad for next year.
There’s no doubt in my mind I can play on for another couple of years. I still feel like a really young 30-year-old.
“In terms of my future, I’m not overly concerned that this might be the end,’’ he said. “I guess that could make a headline, but I don’t think that’s the case.
“As far as I know, the players who have been overlooked will get more clarity in December, when they name the national squad.
“I’d like to think performances this year and in the past will count, and obviously they’ll be looking at this next group of players in these two tournaments. It is a time for re-generation and renewal in our group. The squad named in December is the big thing. If I’m not named in that, it might be the death knock for me, at my age.’’
Both squads named on Monday feature former Newcastle Norths defender Matthew Dawson, who at 20 has already played 53 times for Australia.
Gaudoin was appointed Australia’s caretaker coach last week after the surprise exit of Graham Reid.