Bad back no barrier: Hobbled Holli selected in Australian Country team

Holli Wheeler defied the pain of an injured back to help steer NSW Country to a sixth consecutive win in the Australian Women’s Hockey Country Championships in Bendigo.

She was then selected in the Australian Country team to tour Hong Kong and Singapore next year.

The 22-year-old from Old Bar aggravated an old injury in the second game of the championship.

“I was lucky we had a good physio and she kept me going - I owe her a lot,’’ she said.

However, Wheeler concedes the injury limited her game time especially in the semi-finals. NSW eventually beat Western Australia 4-2 in the final.

She thought her chances of making the Australian team were ‘about 50/50.’

“I just had to keep my head down and do my best and hope the selectors noticed me. I knew because I’d made the under 21s (Australian) team before that my name would be up there.’’

Seven NSW players were named in the Australian open squad.

Former Manning player Caitlyn Rosser was one of six NSW players included in the Australian under 21 team named to play in the Pacific Cup in Fiji next December. Rosser now plays for Sydney University.

Wheeler has been a member of the national 21s squad for the past two years but is now too old.

Wheeler has now been a member of the last four winning NSW teams. She also toured New Zealand with the Australian Country open women’s team last year.

The Australians will head to Hong Kong and Singapore next April, although Wheeler hasn’t yet been informed what the itinerary will be. She understands the cost will be ‘a few grand,’ which the players will have to fund themselves.

NSW fielded a new look side for the championship defence this season and Wheeler admitted before heading to Victoria that she was unsure how they’d fare.

“Everything came together pretty well,’’ she said.

But with the national championships out of the way, Wheeler’s now working hard to regain full fitness before the start of the semi-finals.

She admits to ‘being in a bit of pain’ with the injury and she was still struggling to walk earlier this week.

“It’s not too good at the moment,’’ she said.

“But I’m hoping to be back for the semis.’’

Wheeler is a member of the Tigers division one side. She has also played with Macarthur in the Sydney competition when commitments allow.

“I’ve only played a handful of games though,’’ she added.

Wheeler concedes playing in Sydney remains an option she may explore.

“I wouldn’t mind moving down somewhere a little closer to Sydney. It’s something I’ll talk to my family and partner, Nathan O’Neill about it before I make a decision,’’ she said.

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