Stars up for Origin clash
By TONY WHITE
GRAFTON hockey icon Brent Livermore's bulging portfolio includes Australia's most capped international player, Olympic, World and Commonwealth Games gold medals, but the home town boy admits to be 'really excited' to turning out for NSW against Queensland in the Australian Hockey League (AHL) series in Grafton this weekend.
On show will be in excess of 10 men's and women's Commonwealth Games gold medalists.
"The amount of national team players in Grafton at one time is a pretty amazing thing," Livermore said.
"I know all the NSW and Queensland team are really looking forward to playing in Grafton.
"Really, not in my wildest dreams would I have expected to be playing an AHL game on home turf. Grafton is an amazing town. Hockey in the area has really come on and the whole community has supported it.
"To come home and play before family, friends and the community has me really excited.
"Hopefully everyone will come down and support us."
The cavalcade of NSW and Queensland stars will battle it out for AHL points and State of Origin bragging rights.
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At midday on Saturday NSW and Queensland women do battle followed by the men at 2pm.
On Sunday the men play game two at midday followed by the women at 2pm.
Grafton Hockey Association president Bruce Carle said the first official AHL match up has drawn wide attention.
"We've had calls from Taree, Inverell, Ballina and other country areas interested," Carle said.
"We should get good support from outlying areas and with Easter, hopefully plenty of locals will come and take in the matches and entertainment."
Apart from the AHL matches, round two in the series, a select North Coast Academy squad will tackle a Grafton Under-17 representative team following the men's AHL game on Saturday.
And at 3.25pm on Sunday a 'Hooked In2 Hockey' display for youngsters will be staged headed by Hooked In2 Hockey ambassador Liam Dejong, who will also be interviewed.
Jumping castles will be provided for the youngsters and from 5pm till 8pm on Saturday evening a band will play and it will also be a chance for the public to meet and greet the AHL stars.
Livermore said he was expecting tough games against the Queenslanders, who will be out for revenge following last year's loss to NSW in the AHL grand final in Brisbane.
NSW, without its Commonwealth Games national players, beat West Australia 2-1 in two games in Perth last weekend.
Livermore fully supports a push from Carle to try and attract an international hockey match between the Kookaburras and a visiting international team in Grafton next year.