WARRNAMBOOL’S Madi Ratcliffe has been hand-picked to feature among a host of experienced Hockeyroos at a tournament which could seal the nation’s world cup fate.
The star striker has been named in the 18-strong team to contest the World League semi-final in Belgium on June 21.
Ratcliffe’s inclusion comes as Australia vies to qualify for both the World League final and the 2018 World Cup in London.
Ratcliffe said the selection felt “surreal”.
“We got an email to find out, and then had training that afternoon.
“Obviously there were a few people that didn’t get picked, so that was a bit sad, but it has been really exciting,” she said.
“We had a training camp, and some intra-squad matches so it was nice to have that ticked off.
“It’s my first major tournament so I’m pretty excited.”
Ratcliffe first suited up in green and gold in February last year, and has since strung together three caps for the Hockeyroos.
The former Warrnambool College student told The Standard she was comfortable under the regime of new mentor Paul Gaudoin and was relishing the chance to test herself.
“He’s a legend, I’m feeling really comfortable playing for him, David Guest and Nicole Arrold – the whole coaching panel,” she said.
“The transition with the new coaches has been really smooth and I’m feeling good about playing and in listening to what they have to say.”
Ratcliffe is one of just three Victorians in the squad and is the only member hailing from country Victoria.
Despite increasing opportunities, Ratcliffe said she was still nervous playing at the top level.
“Because this is such a big tournament, it really does put the emphasis on performing well,” she said.
“You still do feel nervous. But as you get to know your teammates more and more, you become more comfortable.
“This tournament is so important. I’m not feeling the pressure or anything but I am feeling the pressure.”