WHEN Kelsey Willott was struck on the finger by the ball last Saturday, for a moment she feared she would be ruled out of her New South Wales Country hockey return.
The Bathurst City Premier League Hockey striker walked off the field at Parkes with a bloodied finger and shortly after found herself at hospital.
Fortunately the damage to Willott’s finger was not serious, which means she will join her NSW team-mates in Townsville for the Australian Country Championships.
“It was panic stations actually. I got hit on the knuckle side of my hand and obviously it hurt, but when I turned my hand over, there was blood everywhere,” Willott said.
“I left and went and got it looked at and all is good, thank goodness, but it was looking not very well for a little while.
“I hadn’t hurt myself all year and then here we go, but it’s all good, they just put a bit of glue in it.”
When the nine-day Australian Country Championships gets underway this Friday, it will mark Willott’s return to the representative outfit.
She is no stranger to wearing the blue of NSW Country, and while she sat out season 2016, Willott thinks it may have led to her taking her game up a notch.
“I am surprised I was selected, I think having a year off, it did take me a little while this season to get back into it. But I’ve got to say, I’ve enjoyed my hockey season so much this year and I’ve learned so much this year,” she said.
“I am picking up new skills and things I haven’t been able to do before. I think before I wasn’t willing to try new things, but this year I’ve gone ‘You know what? I am going to try new things and change my style of hockey.’
“Lisa’s [Quinn, City coach] fantastic, she pushes me hard at training to jump out of my comfort zone and try new things and this year is the first time my hockey style is starting to change, for the better I think.
“There are new things that I will be able to take away with me this year and do up there, which I think will really help me in the next couple of weeks.”
NSW Country goes into the tournament as the defending champions and as such, the pressure will be on to defend that crown.
However, Willott knows what it takes it find success at the national tournament and is keen to do so once more.
“I’m a little bit nervous, I think once I play my first game I’ll be okay. I’m very excited, I’ve played with a lot of the girls in the team beforehand, but there are a lot of new faces as well which is exciting,” she said.
“I know in my past representations I’ve been in grand finals every single time I think. We’ve won a handful and I’ve lost one, my last one was the one we lost.
“It was not a good feeling and I will definitely be going out there with the girls ready to win.
“I think we are good contenders for the tournament and hopefully we can go out there and win.”