JARROD Smith regularly watched representative hockey sides from the other side of the fence as a young bloke.
But now, Smith will pull on the sky blue of his state for the second-successive year when he heads to Lismore in late September.
After being selected in the men’s over-40s team for the national titles, Smith admitted players still appreciated being picked for their state regardless of age.
He was no different.
“It’s nice that you’re not chasing around 16 and 17-year-old’s so it’s good hockey more at our pace,” he said.
“To be selected to go to nationals, it’s good fun. We go away and play a good standard of hockey against guys our age.
“It’s still skillful, it’s still competitive and it’s just a fraction slower.”
The New South Wales side had a tournament to forget last year and Smith admitted the focus would shift to more on enjoyment.
“We didn’t get out of the group stage – the team faltered a bit – so we’re hoping to do a bit better this year,” he said.
“They took it almost a bit too seriously from the coach in the way that he wanted to do things which didn’t seem to work with the group of players we had.
“This year the setup is a bit different; we’re going to go down and do a training session in Newcastle prior to the tournament.
“We didn’t do that last year so we didn’t really get to work on anything, so we’ll work on set plays and structures and try to put them into practice when we’re down there.”
While NSW struggled 12 months ago, Smith said he was happy with how he went individually.
“I was pretty happy with my tournament, but we had a few challenges and ended up with four guys on the injured list so it hammered our rotation a bit,” he said.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Hockey Association president Simon Thresher said Smith’s selection for his state kept them on the map as a viable option for younger players.
Most feel they have to move away from the area.
But Josh Dowrick, Brad Paterson and Annika Toohey’s selection for Australian teams in recent years indicated that wasn’t the case.
“It just shows there is a continual path to rep hockey no matter your age,” Thresher said.
“We’ve got Annika over in South Africa at the moment, Ash Grummitt is in the men’s 55s team at the World Cup in Spain and Russell Clucas was the captain of the men’s 65s Australian team.
“It’s reflective of the growth of our sport.”