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Apr 20

Dawson gets a start withKookaburras

DREAM: Matt Dawson is set to make his debut for Australia.FOLLOWING the Junior Hockey World Cup in Delhi last December Matt Dawson asked national senior coaches what was required to become a Kookaburra.
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Get fitter – was the message relayed back.

With that advice, the Newcastle Norths defender underwent an intensive eight-week running program at the NSW Institute of Sport at Homebush in July and August.

On Tuesday night Dawson will be rewarded for that dedication when he makes his Australian senior debut against India in Perth.

The 20-year-old will be one of four debutants for the Kookaburras and the second youngest after Tom Craig, 19.

‘‘It’ll definitely be exciting and I’ll have plenty of nerves, but hopefully I get a few nice first touches and hopefully I’ll settle into the game easily,’’ Dawson said.

‘‘It’s not a different game, it’ll just be more intense. The boys I’ve been playing with over the past three weeks have been accommodating and a great bunch of guys who have welcomed us into the group with ease.’’

Earlier this year Dawson was named in the Australian development squad and then his impressive performances for NSW in the Australian Hockey League pushed him into Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth’s calculations.

Dawson has also been named for Wednesday night’s second Test against India, while the squad for games three and four on the weekend are yet to be decided.

The Killarney Vale resident joins Maitland’s Simon Orchard as products of the Hunter Coast Premier Hockey League to reach the Kookaburras.

Orchard is recovering from a broken thumb, but could return for game three against India on Saturday.

Norths coach David Willott said Dawson would become the first Blues player to represent Australia since Ray Wright in the 1950s.

Australia are the undisputed kings of men’s hockey after they defeated the Netherlands 6-1 in the world championship final in June at The Hague.

This four-Test series is a precursor to the Champions Trophy starting on December 6 in the India city of Bhubaneswar.

The Kookaburras face England, Belgium and Pakistan in their pool matches.

Dawson is desperate to make the plane to India and knows everyone will be gunning to knock the Kookaburras off their top perch.

‘‘They were disappointed after the Olympics and Australia were hunting for [2012 London gold medallist] Germany,’’ he said.

‘‘Now we’re the hunted as we’re world champions convincingly.

‘‘So everyone wants to remain the benchmark and get better still.’’