FORMER Warrnambool hockey player Phil Frost has high hopes for his Australian squad at the FIH Masters Hockey World Cup next month.
Frost, 51, will captain the Australian over 50 squad at the biennial tournament at Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from June 5 to 13.
Australia will play Argentina, Austria, Spain and South Africa in its four pool matches and is one of the favourites for the coveted title.
Frost, who grew up in Warrnambool but lives in Geelong, believed the Netherlands and England represented the biggest threats to his side.
He said the scheduling of the Masters Hockey World Cup had helped selectors assemble one of the strongest over 50s sides in recent history.
The elite-level world cup at the Hague, featuring the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos, coincides with the masters event 24 kilometres away.
“We reckon we’ve got the strongest side the 50s have had for a long time,” Frost said.
“Last year we thought we had a handy side when we played New Zealand but this year is stronger again.
“We’ve got the cream of the Australian players this year.
“A lot of them are taking their families. That’s been the catalyst of getting a really strong side together.”
The world cup will be the fourth time Frost has represented Australia at the biggest tournament in masters hockey and the third time as captain.
He earned selection after impressing at Australian Masters Hockey Championships in Sydney last October.
“It’s exciting to wear the green and gold. It’s a bit different to wearing the normal club shirt,” he said.
A hip replacement in November has Frost in the best-possible shape to chase a gold medal. He has two silver and one bronze medal to his name.
“(Hockey) is my way of life. When I went to speak to the surgeon he said ‘I’m happy to do it because it’s your way of life’,” he said.
“I was back running within six weeks of surgery and back playing hockey within eight weeks.
“I’m fitter than I was five years ago, I’m motivated and keen. I’m always fit and strive for success. I set myself a pretty high bar.”
Frost plays for Geelong in the Hockey Victoria state league and at association level, as well as for Footscray in a masters competition midweek.
He also coaches the Ballarat-based WestVic women’s squad, estimating he has hockey commitments on six days each week. “I have Fridays off but that’s when I go and watch my son play hockey,” he said.