Goulburn's Ben Staines will get his first run with the Australia A hockey side next Tuesday, when they take on Belgium A in Sydney.
Having earned selection in the National Development Squad off the back of his stunning form in the ACT Hockey winter tournament, Staines was one of 14 members of the 19-strong squad chosen for the clash.
The team will be coached by former Kookaburra and current Victorian Institute of Sport Head of Men's Hockey, Jay Stacy.
Next Tuesday's will be the first of four matches between the two sides, and Staines is "excited" to test himself against one of the top teams in the world.
"I've played a bit of international [hockey] before but nothing to this extent," he said.
"There's some pretty good names in the Belgium team, but they're definitely a world class team, ranked second in the world.
"They've got goals to hit this year to win [FIH] Pro League, so they're definitely going to come out firing."
The 14 members of the NDS will be joined in the team by several Kookaburras players who were not selected for the FIH stoush against Belgium.
The matches, Stacy said, will give NDS players a great opportunity to learn from top-tier players.
"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," he said.
"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."
Through Hockey One and his previous high-level experiences, Staines is familiar with a number of Australian players, but he looks forward to the experience nonetheless.
"It's awesome [to play alongside Kookaburras]," he said.
"I'm getting to the stage now where I'm playing with a lot of those guys anyway. It's good to play with different people from around the country, and I haven't played with a couple of those guys [in the Australia A team] before."
The matches, said Kookaburras head coach Colin Batch, are "a great and rare opportunity for the development players selected to test themselves against quality European competition.
"For the Kookaburras players who do not get selected for the Pro League matches, it provides them with some valuable game time in the early part of what is going to be a massive year."
The schedule for the Australia A vs Belgium A series is as follows:
- Match one: Tuesday January 21, Sutherland Hockey Club from 5.30pm.
- Match two: Thursday January 23, Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre from 7pm.
- Match three: Saturday January 25, Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre from 11am.
- Match four: Sunday January 26, Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre from 10am.
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