The Australian Women's Hockey League will be stacked with Illawarra talent when it commences in Hobart this evening, with representatives in four of the eight teams contesting the title.
Shoalhaven Heads junior Kyah Gray will play alongside Albion Park-born Hockeyroo Casey Eastham for the NSW Arrows after strong performances at under-21 level.
Nineteen-year-old Gray was initially chosen as a shadow player for the Arrows and was preparing to line-up on loan with South Australia before an injury to Hockeyroo Kate Jenner saw her recalled to the Arrows.
Illawarra's Tegan Richards will take the field for South Australia after also gaining shadow selection for NSW.
Sassie Economos and Kalindi Commerford will be represent the Canberra Labor Club Strikers while Airlie Ogilvie will play for Western Australia, where she lives with boyfriend and Kookaburra Simon Orchard.
Gray is looking forward to testing herself against the nation's top hockey talent.
"It's a great opportunity and I'm really looking forward to playing with and against such high-calibre players," she said.
"We've got [Hockeyroos] Casey [Eastham], Kate [Jenner], Jade Close [and] Emily Hurtz in our team. The Australian selectors, coach and junior world cup coaches are all here and they'll select an under 21s team as well as an Australian squad."
The Arrows will be looking to avenge their loss to the Victoria Vipers in last year's grand final.
"That's definitely the aim. We've had a fair few injuries this year, but most of the squad is pretty similar," Gray said.
Gray and Richards are former Illawarra Academy of Sport (IAS) players and, as they prepare to press Hockeyroo claims, the IAS's next generation is on the rise.
Current IAS squad members Mikaela Patterson and Grace Stewart have been selected in the Hockey Australia Futures Squad.
"It's for athletes who've been identified as potential Hockeyroos and potential Olympians," IAS general manager Carolyn Dews said.
"We are very fortunate in the Illawarra in that we have a strong pool of athletes in both of girls and boys program. Tegan Richards came through the academy and Kyah Gray came through the academy a couple of years ago."
It will be Patterson's second year with the squad. Her selection comes on the back of outstanding form with the NSW Institute of Sport.
Sixteen-year-old Stewart's selection caps a great year: she was selected in the Australian under-16 and the NSW under-18 and under-21 teams.