Olympian Aran Zalewski has been named interim co-captain of the national men’s hockey team following the retirement of Kookaburras legend Mark Knowles.
Zalewski will share the honour with Tasmanian Eddie Ockenden – with the pair set to alternate as skipper during the team’s Champions Trophy campaign in the Netherlands starting later this month.
Kookaburras coach Colin Batch indicated that one of the men will likely assume the role full-time for the Hockey World Cup in India at the year’s end, and indicated both men had strong designs on the role.
Speaking of Zalewski’s qualities, Batch said that the Margaret River product held an elite training ethic and is one the most astute minds within the squad in a match situation.
"Aran is tactically really smart with a key role in the middle of the pitch.
"He’s a real driver in the way we train and the way we’re developing as a team. He has great credentials in the leadership capacity as well.”
Batch however, also believes that Ockenden holds strong leadership credentials.
"Eddie is a very experienced player and has had experience as a co-captain before,” Batch said.
"He’s got a new challenge in front of him, playing as a defender which I think has given him a new lease of life and he seems to be relishing that role.”
Batch said the plan behind trialling the duo under competition pressure would held demonstrate how the men would cope with the additional responsibilities attached to leadership.
"We want to trial the two guys and get a better feel of how they’ll handle the captaincy. We want them to be their own person, perform and play as well as they can while being the leader,” he said.
With the 2018 Champions Trophy running from June 23 to July 1, the Kookaburras have settled on an 18 man squad that will feature four Western Australian athletes.
Zalewski is joined on tour by Tyler Lovell, Trent Mitton and Jake Harvie – who will contest his first Champions trophy tournament.
The Australians have been grouped with Belgium, Pakistan, India, the Netherlands and Argentina.