Second time lucky for hockey star’s NZ tour hope

NEW Zealand’s north island will be the setting for the next chapter of Emily Lanman’s decorated hockey career.

The Woolsthorpe centre-half, 27, will leave Australia tomorrow bound for the land of the long white cloud, where she will represent Australia Country.

The two-week tour will be her second stint in national colours, following her debut with the squad in Singapore and Hong Kong 12 months ago.

Lanman also earned Australia Country selection in 2011 but had to withdraw from its tour to New Zealand due to a back injury.

Finally getting the chance to cross the Tasman Strait means she will have “unfinished business” when she takes to the field.

Lanman said the Brett Stokes-coached Australia Country squad would fly into Auckland before training and playing practice matches in Rotarua.

The players then head to Napier for the Hawkes Bay Festival of Hockey from April 8 to 13, taking on NZ Masters, NZ Maori, NZ Indian and NZ Senior.

The tour wraps up with a couple more practice matches and development sessions in Auckland and Whangarei, 160 kilometres further north.

“The first couple of games are always interesting because you don’t know the other girls,” Lanman said yesterday.

“You go through some intensive training together to get to know each other as a team and then you’re thrown into a game environment.

“Because you’re all experienced hockey players it’s a lot easier to gel. But at the same time it is a learning curve.”

Lanman earned squad selection on the back of her efforts representing Victoria at the Australian Country Hockey Championships in August, 2013.

Tournament officials named her player of the championships — the biggest individual accolade of her career — for helping Victoria to fourth spot.

Lanman said she played hockey “for the social side and the love of the game”. She said her game sense improved as a result of her first tour with the squad.

“Obviously it’s a team sport. You can play hockey then you can play hockey in a game sense,” she said.

“You know where everyone is on the pitch and you can distribute yourselves evenly and work the whole pitch rather than your own section.

“You’re expected to have a high level of skill to make the team. (The tour) furthers your ability to play as a team.”

The international tour means Lanman will have a delayed start to her first campaign with Victorian Premier League club Powerhouse St Kilda.

She is one of four Warrnambool District Hockey Association players — Madi Ratcliffe, Kirsty Rout and Phoebe Webb are the others — to join the club for 2014.

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