Manning hockey player named in Australian Country side

In Australian Country side: Manning hockey player Holli Wheeler.
In Australian Country side: Manning hockey player Holli Wheeler.

REPRESENTING the Australian Country women's hockey team has taken Holli Wheeler to Fiji twice, New Zealand twice, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Next year she'll add Malaysia to the list when she tours there in March. Holli and fellow Manning player Ashleigh Alcorn have been named in the squad following the national country championships played in Toowoomba, where they were members of the NSW side beaten in the final by Queensland.

Holli is the Manning River Times-Iguana Sportstar of the Week, earning a $50 open order at Iguana (Ashley won the award when she was named in the NSW team earlier in the year).

Holli first toured Fiji as a member of the Australian Country under 21s in 2010 and returned as captain in 2011. She's been a regular member of the senior team since 2012 and played in New Zealand earlier this year.

But she says next year will be special.

"I can't wait,'' the 24-year-old smiles.

"I'm really looking forward to playing over there with Ash. We've grown up together playing hockey since we were about 12 and this is going to be a great experience.''

The team won't train until they arrive in Malaysia.

"It's too hard to get everyone together,'' Holli explained.

"But there's a lot of communication between the coaching staff and the players and we'll know what is expected of us when we get there.''

At this stage the Australians will play a test series against the Malaysian national team while there could also be matches against Thailand and Indonesia.

As the tour is on before the domestic hockey competitions start Holli will have to train in the off-season and she admits this does sometimes present difficulties.

"But training with Ash will make it easier,'' she said.

"We'll be able to challenge each other.''

Holli believes playing at this level since 2010 has improved her hockey and she expects the Malaysian team to be formidable.

There's a number of new faces in the Australian side from the squad that went to New Zealand this year. In fact, there's only one player still in the team from when Holli made her debut in the senior team.

Holli and Ashley were members of the NSW team beaten 4-1 by Queensland in the Australian country final last week. NSW were shooting for their eighth successive championship win, just as Queensland was in State of Origin rugby league this year.

"I had a feeling something like this might happen when NSW won the origin,'' Holli said.

"But you can't win every year. It was an awesome effort just to make the final.''

Holli plays with defending premiers Tigers in the Manning A-grade competition.

She doubles up by turning out for Regals in the Newcastle Premier League.