(Photo: © FIH / Vino John)

Hockey Australia has selected a strong squad combining youth and experience for the upcoming Men's Champions Trophy tournament to be played in Rotterdam, Netherlands from 21 until 29 June.

Overall five players (Des Abbott, Nathan Burgers, Kiel Brown, Fergus Kavanagh and Eli Matheson) will make their Champions Trophy debuts.

Andrew Smith, Simon Orchard, Russell Ford, Brent Livermore, Nathan Eglington (injured) and Stephen Mowlam (injured) are the remaining Kookaburra squad members who have missed out on making the Champions Trophy squad.

The 2008 Men's Champions Trophy will see the Kookaburras face off against Argentina, Spain, Germany, Korea and the Netherlands in what is the last major international tournament on the world hockey calendar prior to the Olympics.

With the 2008 Beijing Olympics only two months away, Kookaburras coach Barry Dancer says the team is aiming to get the best preparation possible.

'There are several outcomes that we are looking to achieve during our time away, not only during the Champions Trophy but also during our two matches against Belgium prior to the tournament.

Firstly we are looking to develop our mental toughness and our competitive pressure in what will be a high pressure event. The tournament will also allow us to further develop our team understanding while also giving us an opportunity to develop form and confidence amongst the group as we expose ourselves to some quality opposition.' Said Dancer.

Dancer says that while being selected in the Champions Trophy squad will give the players a final opportunity to impress prior to the Olympic squad selection, other factors will also be taken into consideration.

'The performances of the players at the Champions Trophy tournament and the two games against Belgium won't be the only factor when we sit down to select the Olympic squad in July. But in saying that, it presents a good opportunity for this group of players to step up and put their best foot forward against the world's best opposition.'

Australian 2008 Champions Trophy squad:
Des Abbott, Travis Brooks, Kiel Brown, Nathan Burgers, Liam De Young, Luke Doerner, Jamie Dwyer, Bevan George, David Guest, Robert Hammond, Aaron Hopkins, Fergus Kavanagh, Mark Knowles, Stephen Lambert, Eli Matheson, Eddie Ockenden, Grant Schubert, Matthew Wells.

Source: Hockey Australia