By Shendelle Oliver of Lacrosse WA
After a big week at the Australian National Lacrosse Championships in Perth, the Australian Squad was out on the track the very next day for the first official national camp in preparation for the 2014 World Championships in Denver.
The squad currently consists of 82 Australians from all over the country: 18 players from Western Australia, 20 from South Australia, 33 from Victoria and 11 that are currently playing overseas at college or who are based in the US or Canada.
State-based training camps have already been held in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria but this is first time all the currently eligible players have come together with the entire coaching staff. There were originally 109 players in the squad but injury, travel and family commitments has seen the squad cut itself down to 82 men.
Players were put through a sprint test and a beep test by the team’s professional fitness personnel, Ted Polglaze and Stuart Cormack. A series of scrimmage games were played to see how match-ups worked and a variety of drills were run, all testing Australia’s toughest players.
Australian Head Coach, Glenn Meredith said, “Every previous Coach’s reports l have read about Australian teams, and even the one l played in, suggest we were the fittest team and playing our best lacrosse at the end of World Championships. We must be the fittest and the best team at the beginning; this is a major focus of the 2014 project and to also play our own unique brand of hard-running, freelance, Aussie-style lacrosse.”
After the October training camp, Meredith said that blend of youth and a selfless style of lacrosse that was being played was pleasing for the Australian Coaching staff to see. “The guys that went the distance on the field at the camp, directly after the Nationals were outstanding. A few of them have elevated themselves in my eyes from that effort.”
Earlier in 2012, Coach Meredith and WA based coach Phil Ackland traveled to the US to get a preview of the 2014 World Games and watch the USA take on Canada. They took a tour of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where the 2014 World Championships will be played and met with all involved at USA Lacrosse, then visited the proposed accommodation. There was no stone unturned to ensure there are no surprises awaiting the team when we land in 2014.
As history shows the game between the U.S.A and Canada was a terrific struggle with Canada defeating the US by two goals. The Aussie staff got a lot out of the visit, learning about each country’s specific coaching styles, team set ups, go-to defence and attack patterns they set up during crucial times in the game. Meredith feels that having seen Canada and US play already will prove to be very useful advantage down the track.
The next National Camp will be in late March 2013 (possibly Easter) and predicted to be held in Melbourne. Rumours suggest that the New Zealand team will head to Australia to be involved in a weekend tournament and this will be a major event for all players who are trying to secure a spot in their countries national team. Meredith said, “It’s great to have the selection process now well underway and players that don’t put in the hard yards from here on will be exposed and cut from the squad. I am very confident with the coaching structures and fitness staff we have put in place off the field our aim is to be the best prepared team that has ever left our shores.”