BATHURST'S leading women's hockey duo Tamsin Bunt and Jess Watterson are one step closer to being a part of the inaugural NSW Pride team after being named in the extended squad on Wednesday.
The Pride are one of seven teams taking part in the first ever Hockey One season, a competition created to replace the outgoing Australian Hockey League, which gets underway this September.
Both Bunt and Watterson have been a part of the NSW Arrows AHL squad in previous seasons but the opportunity to make the switch from blue to browns uniform is an exciting prospect.
The squad of 33 will be trimmed down to 20 closer to the start of the competition.
This marks the 10th year Bunt has been selected in the open NSW squad.
"Every time you see your name on a selection list it's always a great feeling, regardless of whether it's your 10th year or your first," Bunt said.
"I'm sure the closer the competition gets the more different the build up will feel, especially with the change in uniform and the format.
"Even though we're still playing for NSW it's going to be for a different team and that's really exciting."
Both Bathurst players were able to end the Australian Hockey League era in style last year when they helped the Arrows claim a long awaited win over rivals Queensland Scorchers.
They're previous experience at the state level makes them top candidates to earn a place in the final Pride lineup.
Hockey One will be broadcast nationally and has drawn parallels to cricket's Big Bash League in that it is a colourful, entertaining format designed to spark more interest in the sport.
Bunt is hopeful the competition will succeed in that task.
"They're trying to make steps forward in increasing the popularity of hockey, and making it televised is great," she said.
"After 10 years in the old AHL system this will be really different for me but I think it's an exciting change. It's great to be trying to change things up."
Bunt and Watterson are just two members of a great Central West presence in the men's and women's NSW squads.
Rene Hunter, Hayden Dillon (Lithgow), Mariah Williams and Kurt Lovett (Parkes) also made the cut.
Along with that group are former Lithgow-based talents Abigail Wilson and Hannah Kable who now play under the banner of North West Sydney.
Katrina Powell returns as coach of the NSW squad.
"The team's got a great mix of new athletes and players who have been in the team for a while," Bunt said.
"There's a fair few younger ones added to the squad list this year, which I think is great."
Fixtures for the inaugural Hockey One season are yet to be released but the competition is set to start in late September.