TWO years ago when COVID denied Hannah Kable the chance to represent her country she felt like she 'died inside', but now the Bathurst hockey talent is feeling utter elation.
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It is because she has been named to play for the Jillaroos at the Oceania Junior World Cup Qualifiers against New Zealand in Canberra this December.
The Jillaroos are Australia's under 21 women's side, a team that Kable has longed to represent ever since she first picked up a stick.
"That's been just my dream ever since I was a kid. I always said if I wasn't going to pursue my career with hockey, then I'd have to make Junior World Cup, if I could do that, then I'd be happy," she said.
"It's my childhood dream. I grew up watching like Mariah Williams and Kate Hanna and Jane Claxton when they played Jillaroos years and years ago.
"I found out on Sunday I was selected but I wasn't allowed to tell anyone until it was announced - I couldn't believe it, I honestly could not believe it."
Kable, who this year played her club hockey with St Pat's, was named in the initial 27-player Jillaroos squad in August.
But given she's in her final year as an eligible under 21 and could not go on and play at the 2023 Junior World Cup, Kable was unsure if she'd actually get to wear the green and gold.
That's why she was so excited when Jillaroos selectors opted to give her and some of the other top-age players the job of playing in the three-game series against New Zealand.
"I assumed they would take all the younger girls, because we don't qualify for the Junior World Cup next year I thought they probably wouldn't pick us, but yeah, they're going to use us to qualify," she said.
"That's brilliant, I think it's the smart thing to do and it's obviously good for me.
"I'm thrilled, I can't wait to pull on the green and gold uniform. I'm so excited for that day I get my uniform.
"This was always my pinnacle, I always wanted to make Junior World Cup and I was so devastated that with the two years of COVID my age group missed out.
"Like my World Cup should've been two years ago, but that's when COVID hit and we couldn't go away and the team wasn't even selected because there was no point.
"I feel like I died inside because that was my pinnacle point, so to be able to play in this Junior World Cup Qualifier means everything to me."
While both Australia and New Zealand will automatically qualify for next year's World Cup given Oceania receives two spots, Kable knows the tri series will still be fiercely contested.
That's exactly what Kable wants.
"They are strong, they have a really strong, young age group coming through too, so they're going to be tough," she said.
"It's not going to be an easy tri series at all. I'm just so excited to play some quality, tough hockey.
"It's going to be a brutal tri series, it's going to be a slog, every game is going to be close. It always is between New Zealand and Australia, it's always so close.
"Three games over four days is big."
The Jillaroos will play their Oceania Junior World Cup Qualifiers alongside the Australian under 21s men's team the Burras.
Kable's team gets the honour of playing second twice and that, on top of home crowd support, is something she's eagerly anticipating.
"The boys play the first game twice, there's nothing better being there, watching the atmosphere of the boys' game and then playing straight after," she said.
"Usually the men play second, so I'm stoked about that, I'm all about promoting women's sport.
"We'll have a bloody good home crowd and all our family is going to be there, which is a bonus. There's nothing better than a home crowd, that feeling that you're surrounded by people that support you."
The qualifiers will be played at Canberra's National Hockey Centre on December 8, 10 and 11.
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