Last lines of state defence sticking up for their city
QUEENSLAND’S last line of defence will have a distinct Townsville feel to it.
Goalkeepers Mitchell Nicholson and Hannah Astbury will be between the sticks for the Queensland under- 21 teams at this month’s Australian Hockey Championships.
Aged 17 and 16 respectively, they form part of a younger guard of Queensland teams aiming to be competi- tive at national level. Astbury was part of the under- 21 team that won silver last year and is hoping Queensland, which also features Townsville products Rebecca Church and Stephanie Kershaw, can go one better.
It’s more experience for her, having recently returned from an Australian schools tour of Europe, where she was exposed to different styles of hockey playing against Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
“It was just incredible and it was a different level of hockey,” Astbury said.
“Playing against different countries who have a different style, it’s really good.
“The Europeans play a completely different style to the Aussies, especially the Netherlands and Germany.”
Astbury will be away even longer after the Hobart tournament and heads into an Australian under- 21 squad camp.
For Nicholson, it’s his first time in the under- 21s program but comes after he played for the state under- 18 team earlier this year.
The Brothers goalkeeper was expecting a big jump in level and went into the team keen to gain as much as he could as he plays in Canberra.
“I’m just learning and I go away with an open mind and see what other keepers are doing so I can develop my game and become better,” he said.
“Then you just learn off other people and see what works for them. It’s a hell of a lot faster and under- 18s was even a big step up.
“It’s faster than the Agrade competition here and apparently under- 21s is the fastest hockey you’ll come across.
“It’s really good to be in it.”
Nicholson and Astbury went into camp in Brisbane yesterday ahead of the national championships between July 12 and 19.
SUPER SAVE: Queensland under- 21 goalkeepers Mitchell Nicholson and Hannah Astbury are off to the national championships.