Knowles joins Super League Tournament on CQ team
HOCKEY: Former Kookaburras' captain, Olympian and Rockhampton product Mark Knowles, will be competing with Central Queensland's best this weekend at the Queensland Super League Tournament in Brisbane.
The Commonwealth Games champion will be joining the men's CQ team, made up of players from Gladstone, Rockhampton and Mackay, while they battle it out against five other regions: Northern (Townsville and Cairns), Wide Bay (Bundaberg and Maryborough), Brisbane, South West (Ipswich and Toowoomba) and the South Coast (Gold Coast and Tweed Heads).
"It's the best of the best that Qld has to offer,” the women's CQ team coach Lisa Morgan said.
"We're fortunate to have Mark Knowles. It's exciting.
"He's come back to support his home region.
"The men's team has some really good players and when you throw Mark in the mix, bringing a little bit of knowledge and experience, I think they'll be quite competitive.”
The teams of 18 include six men, Jarrod Bass, Luke Brighton, Cooper Johnson, Clinton Mckay, Matthew Olives, and Reagan Weatherhead and four women, Cassidy Knuth, Ebony Moffat, Jessica Moffat and Renee Sweeney, who currently play for Rockhampton A1 teams.
The tournament also allows access to former regional players who have since moved to other regions.
"We requested nominations and were phoning around to see who has been playing well and our three centres picked what we thought was the best mix,” Morgan said.
"We have five or six Gold Coast and Brisbane-based players who started their hockey in CQ and will come play for us and give back to their grass roots.”
The women will hope to match last year's efforts, where they came third with their best finish yet.
"I'm expecting them to finish around the same place and if not, hopefully making the final,” Morgan said.
"We're fairly fortunate. We took a young team last year and they've gathered experience.
"Local product Renee Sweeney is having her first opportunity and that's promising.
"Four or five haven't played Super League before but we think with the mixture we've got, they'll step up to it.”
Morgan said the side was fortunate enough to also pick up a goalkeeper in Brisbane's Emily Witheyman-Crump.
"She is a Qld 21 Futures goal keeper. She's talented,” she said.
"From Brisbane we also have a talented up and coming keeper, Jordan Bliss, who is 15 and played in the Super League last year. With the work we done last year, it will hold us in good stead this year.”
Morgan said the men also have a mixture of players who have not competed in the Super League before but their combination with more experienced players will help guide the younger players along the journey.
The team will assemble on Friday night for their first full-team training session.
When: May 4-6. Women's first game is 11.15am Saturday and men's is 11am.
Watch the finals live-stream on the Hockey Qld Facebook page.