NZ hockey manager scopes out Rocky in countdown to Cup
HOCKEY: Kevin Marr was impressed with what he found on his two-day reconnaissance mission to Rockhampton.
Marr is manager of the Black Sticks, New Zealand men's and women's hockey teams which will contest the Oceania Cup in the Beef Capital in September.
New Zealand will take on Australia in the best-of-three series, with the winners automatically qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Eleven Pacific Island and Asian nations have also been invited to take part in the Intercontinental Hockey 5s, to be held in conjunction with the Oceania Cup from September 4 to 8.
Marr flew into Rockhampton on Sunday and jetted out Wednesday after doing some of the ground work required for the international tournament.
"I've been having a look at the facilities regarding the turf, having a look at accommodation, where we should stay, what's available in restaurants and support,” he said.
"Our program between now and September is very full and the ability to come and do it in what is a down week for me was just too good to miss.
"I didn't know what levels of accommodation were going to be available here, I didn't really have an understanding of distances between airports and hotels, hotels and turf, meals and how we do it.”
Marr said "all the facilities you want are here” and was clearly impressed with the Rockhampton riverfront redevelopment, which he described as a "very appealing landscape”.
"Our athletes, while they are here for hockey, also want the ability to go out and spend some time in the community as well,” he said.
Competition-wise, Marr said spectators would be treated to hockey at its absolute best, with the Australian and New Zealand teams all inside the top 10 in the world rankings.
"You've got two world-class sides... and there's something at stake,” he said.
"It's not just an event in terms of a public spectacle - the winner of this has a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics so you're going to see the best New Zealand sides and the best Australian sides turn up.
"Australia will be turning up very focused, but so will we.”
The New Zealanders will arrive in Rockhampton on August 31 to acclimatise and familiarise themselves with the venue before the games on September 5, 7 and 8.