James Burbidge takes a look down under at Team Australia in the third installment of his World Games series.
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About the Team
Known as the Crocs, Australia look to be a good balance of experience (two players attended the 2005 World Games), and C4090-451
youth (5 players were at the u23 championships in Florence in 2010). They’ve also got great team spirit, and a winning social media campaign, as evidenced by their website, twitter, facebook and youtube accounts. Plus, they’re getting in the news.
Without a doubt, the biggest name on the list is Tom ‘The Gak’ Rogacki. The most dominant player in Australia for the last 15 years, his name is known around the (Ultimate) world. He brings experience from the 2005 World Games to the team and first represented Australia in 1998. He played in the Masters division at the last WUCC where he lead the division in total stats (goals + assists). A possibly controversial selection, he will undoubtedly make an impact on the field.
Whilst most of the team have a similar wealth of experience representing their country, one player will be putting green and gold on her shoulders for the first time – Danielle Alexander. Making the jump from club to World Games team is a significant step and should indicate a hot new talent.
At the other end of the spectrum is Peter Blakeley who, having come up through the Autralian junior programme, has played for every Australian team possible (without being a woman or a master). He caught twice as many goals as any other Austalian player in the Open division in Japan, and is a receiver to be reckoned with.
Peter will be reunited with four teammates from that campaign: Joel Pillar, Seb Barr (who threw the highest number of goals on the Australian Open team in Japan), Jonno Holmes (who has played both previous World Games) and Tim Lavis, the Captain of the Crocs. It is unknown how much sleep Jonno and Tim have had since that hammer.
Coming from the extremely successful (silver medal) and well-coached Mixed team in Japan are husband and wife pairing Gavin and Lisi Moore who should bring chemistry to the field as well as a deeper understanding of the mixed game.
Another pairing of note on the team is that of the Phillips sisters. Both won gold with the u23 Women’s team in Florence and both were dominant players in same division at WUGC. Michelle, the older sister, 1Y0-A17 scored the 3rd most goals for the Australian team, and Cat was 4th in total stats in the whole division. She is also still eligible for the u23 tournament taking place in Toronto this year but opted for World Games instead.
|Tom Rogacki throws past a Finnish force. Photo courtesy of Paul Hurt.
Coaches and expected playing style
The team is coached by Anna Rogacki, wife of Tom. She coached Cat, Michelle and Steph to a gold medal in the u23 Womens team in 2010 and coached the Club team Honey to a National Championships in 2012. This year she coached the Men’s team Chilly to 3rd place at the Australian National Championships.
Assistant coach Mike Neild was originally a reserve for the team and so presumably brings a close relationship with the players. He has a wealth of playing experience where he dominated the air as a downfield receiver. Having played at World Games in 2009 he knows what’s involved and will be able to share his experience and knowledge with the team.
The Australians have been known for a strong deep game, usually from a vertical stack, and backed up by tenacious man defense. I wouldn’t expect them to move away from what has made them successful in the past, but since they feel like they’ve been knocking on the door for a while, perhaps they’ll look for something new to muscle their way into the final?
Expected finishing place
Australia has been on the 2nd tier of world Ultimate for a long time, and I don’t see this competition being any different. Their strong Mixed results will stand them in good stead over some of the competition, but I don’t see them breaking into the final.
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