Three Wollongong Rollerhawks stars have been included in a 12-man squad to defend Australia’s title at the world championships in South Korea.
Adam Deans, Luke Pople and Nick Taylor all made the final cut for the team, which also includes eight players who won silver at the London Paralympic Games.
The titles are held from July 3-15, with the Australian squad was announced after an intensive four-day training camp at the Australian Paralympic headquarters, a facility which is shared with the Essendon AFL club.
Australian Rollers coach Ben Ettridge declared he had a group capable of defending the crown.
“When you look at the likes of Brad Ness, Justin Eveson, Shaun Norris, Tristan Knowles and Michael Hartnett – you’ve got a core group who have played more than 150 times for their country on the biggest stages our sport has to offer,” Ettridge said.
“These players understand what it takes to succeed at a World Championships and Paralympics, and will provide the leadership and direction to our younger players.”
They lead a new generation of talent who will get their chance to shine on the international stage, according to Ettridge.
“In Jannik and Bill we have two players with significant international experience, despite their relative youth,” Ettridge said.
“These guys are the leaders for the young players like Adam Deans, Luke Pople, Josh Allison and Tom O’Neill-Thorne, who will get their first taste of a World Championship tournament in South Korea.
“They have all proven they belong in the final 12 and I can’t wait to see them show the world that the next generation of Rollers will ensure the program remains among the world’s elite.”
The Rollers will face European powerhouses Germany, Sweden and Italy in the group round, a pool dubbed the “group of death”.
Ettridge said the squad already had the desire to beat the world’s best.
“Over the weekend, the excitement grew amongst the players – you could see the reality of what is around the corner dawning on them,” Ettridge said.
“Our first session on court was meant to be a light shoot around, and before we knew it, we were getting competitive up and down the floor – at that point we knew then the guys were locked in for this camp.
“Our scrimmages were as competitive as I have seen in 18 months. We looked sharp and the chemistry we wanted was there.”
Australian Wheelchair basketball squad for to play in South Korea (July 3-15): Adam Deans, Luke Pople, Nick Taylor; Joshua Allison, Jannik Blair, Tristan Knowles (Victoria), Justin Eveson, Michael Hartnett, Shaun Norris (Perth), Bill Latham, Tom O’Neill-Thorne (Queensland), Brad Ness (Adelaide)