AFTER having her Hockeyroo dream shattered by a serious knee injury last season, Bathurst hockey star Tamsin Bunt will begin the process of pushing for national selection once more when the Australian Hockey League commences today.
The NSW Arrows player and her team-mates will take on the ACT in Sydney in the first round of the tournament, which will run through until next Friday.
They will also face Tasmania and heavyweights Western Australia in their subsequent pool matches before moving into the next phase of the tournament.
As defending champions, NSW will be aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back titles since WA in 2008, but there is a bit more to it for Bunt.
“I had knee surgery in December, having just made the Hockeyroos squad. I missed out on the Indoor Hockey World Cup and really have only been back playing in the last few months,” the former Souths Premier League Hockey gun explained.
“During our practice matches I’ve had a few niggles and some pain, so it is something that is always in the back of your mind. It shouldn’t be, but it is.
“It was pretty heartbreaking how it all unfolded last year, to make the squad and then have surgery and a long recovery.
“I definitely hope that I can play well enough and get back into the squad, but I’ll be happy enough if I can just get through the tournament without any more issues and play my role for the team.”
Last year the Arrows defeated Queensland in the tournament decider and on the basis of that result, deserve to be favoured once more in 2015.
Based on their lead-up, Bunt is confident NSW will be in the mix and said the scheduling makes the situation a little easier.
“We have been training together since July and had a fair few practice games, some against the New Zealand side as well as the ACT and Victoria, and played quite well in those,” she said.
“I think we will be close again, we’re without a few players from the squad last year but on the other side of that, we have players coming back who were unavailable last year too, so they balance each other out.
“In our pool Western Australia are certainly the team to beat, any time you play them it is always a tough slog and they are going to be one of the teams to beat again this year.
“I think it works in our favour though that we don’t play them until the third game. We get to ease ourselves into it a bit with a game against the ACT and then Tasmania to try and find our feet.”
Bunt’s injury issues mean she is coming from less of a base fitness-wise than many of her team-mates, but she is expected to slot straight into the starting side. No doubt her experience at this level will help her hit her stride quickly.
“I missed the state titles, and my preparation hasn’t been as good or as long as a lot of the other players,” she said.
“But I’ve played in all the practice matches and I think my role in the midfield will be similar to last year.
“I hope I’m still a key member of the group. I know my fitness won’t be quite at its peak, but I know that once I get back into it, it won’t take me long to be a good contributor.”