WARRNAMBOOL hockey product Cale Rout says youth could be Victoria Country’s secret weapon at the Australian Country Championships.
Rout, a five-time state representative, will captain the men’s side for the first time at the August 11-19 championships in Townsville, having been vice-captain last year.
Fellow Warrnambool hockey products Stewart Manderson and Max Ferrier have also been named in the team, which features about 10 new faces and six returning from previous campaigns.
“We’re taking a young side, but we’ve got a bit of experience and skill,” Rout said.
“We’re not going there to finish second or third – we’re always aiming for the gold.
“Being young, obviously we’ve got a fair bit of legs in the side, so (we’re) quite a quick and fit team.”
Manderson, 18 and now playing for Waverley, is among the debutants.
He said he was looking forward to his first exposure to the state tournament level of competition.
“It’s completely different compared to just playing on Saturdays,” Manderson said.
“Going forward, I’d hope to push for more representative selections and if you want to do that and be good at it, you have to be pushing to back-up the next day.”
The Deakin University Burwood Campus student said playing in the metropolitan competition has helped take his game to a higher level this year.
Rout, 24, has been plying his trade with Altona and squeezing in appearances for Warrnambool side South West Strikers when he can.
He said it was a privilege to be named captain of his state country team. “These opportunities don’t come along too often,” he said.
“Even to be picked in the side is a great opportunity, then be be picked as captain … it’s a big responsibility.”
With the Australian Country team to be picked at the tournament, Rout will be striving for his fourth national selection in as many years.