Albion Park's Jack Hayes has been rewarded for guiding the NSW men's open team to national title success.
Hayes played a key role in NSW's grand final win over ACT at the Australian Indoor Hockey Hockey Festival in Unanderra last week. The striker scored two goals in regular play and also found the back of the net twice during the shootout as his side secured the gold medal.
On Tuesday afternoon, Hockey Australia announced Hayes will now represent Australia A in four field hockey matches against Belgium A in Sydney from January 21.
The team consists of Kookaburras and selected players from the National Development Squad, including Hayes.
"I'm definitely proud to be selected after being omitted from the national squad last year and going back to development," Hayes told the Mercury.
"The world keeps turning though. I'll just be trying to play my role in the team, regardless of what that is. Our main goal is to win all four games."
Australia A coach Jay Stacy said there was great depth in Australian hockey at the moment.
"We have a number of players who can fill 18 spots and it's very competitive and very healthy for the squad moving forward," Stacy said.
"I'm sure the Kookaburras players coming into this squad will be really determined to show their wares and show the selectors for the following weekend and the rest of the Pro League that they are ready to go and are in good form.
"For the guys in the development squad, it is great experience for them to get a close up look and see what skills and attributes these Kookaburras players have in their game in order to make the next step."
Stacy is a former Kookaburra and is currently the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) Head of Men's Hockey.
He said his expectation for Australia A was that "we're going into it to win four matches".
"But we also want to make it an enjoyable experience," Stacy said.
"It is an early start to what is a long year for the athletes, so we've got to be conscious of that and about going too hard too early for the year. These important opportunities don't come around at the senior level all that often so we want to give them the opportunity to perform well against really good opposition in a pressure situation.
"These development players are knocking on the door for post Tokyo 2020 and they want to be putting their hand up for the first squad that is selected post Tokyo."
The Australia A team will meet up in Sydney on Saturday ahead of the first match on January 21 at Sutherland Hockey Club. The other three games will be played at the Sydney Olympic Park's Hockey Centre.
Spectators can go to all four games for free.
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