Taking on the Aussies on our turf

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Whanganui hockey players Brett Smith, Michelle Low, Naomi Wilson and John Wilson are preparing for the Trans-tasman Masters Challenge in Whangarei. Photo/ Stuart Munro

By Zaryd Wilson

Four Whanganui hockey players will line up for New Zealand sides in next month's Trans-Tasman Masters Challenge in Whangarei.

The series, which is held every two years, involves teams representing each country in 14 different gender and age-groups.

Each team plays a three-match series their Australian counterparts for an age-group medal while the overall trophy is decided on aggregate.

Australia currently hold the overall trophy.

Whanganui's Brett Smith, Michelle Low, Naomi Wilson and John Wilson were selected from trials in November and have been in training since.

Smith has been playing in the event since 1996 while the others have all played several times so they're all aware how tough it will be.

"It's not social," Smith said. "Not when you're playing Australia it's not. As far as the test matches are concern, they're full on."

He said the level of hockey across all age groups was high.

"All we're giving away is age. And all that is is a little bit of reflex and speed. You're skills don't go away, it's just that little bit slower," Smith said.

"We've has some training camps. And when we get there we'll play against some of the other sides in the lead up to the start.

New Zealand had a decent chance a winning the overall trophy but Australia were favourites, he said.

"It's going to be a hard nut. Australia aren't easy. They would have 20-25 times our playing numbers, it's just huge compared to here but we can hold out own."

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