RISING STARS: Grafton Hockey Association juniors Reece Gaddes and Samira Lawson have been selected to represent NSW Blues at the under-18 Australian Championships at Hobart in April.
RISING STARS: Grafton Hockey Association juniors Reece Gaddes and Samira Lawson have been selected to represent NSW Blues at the under-18 Australian Championships at Hobart in April. Matthew Elkerton

Grafton duo ready to put in hard yards for NSW

HOCKEY: The long festive season was never going to be the perfect preparation period for Grafton Hockey Association juniors Reece Gaddes and Samira Lawson as they aimed for state selection at the under-18 trials last month.

With major holidays disrupting their training, both Grafton High students struggled to find the right amount of time to train.

But while their selection weekends might have started off a little "scratchy", it did not faze either teen with both earning a trip to Hobart in April for their respective under-18 NSW Blues sides to compete at the Australian titles.

It is a return to the national stage for both of the juniors after they missed out on selection in 2016, despite Lawson being a late call-up to the training side for NSW.

"I haven't been working as hard I should have," Gaddes said.

"I left it a bit late to prepare for the camp. I only had two weeks preparation for it when I should have had about nine."

Gaddes was well supported by coach Rick Sampson in his Accelerated Athlete Program, with the coach jamming weeks worth of work into only a few last- minute training runs.

Despite feeling underdone at the selection camp in Sydney, Gaddes' natural ability on the hockey turf shone through with the defender an early pick in the Blues line-up.

For Lawson her trials began in the same vein as Gaddes, with the 17-year-old unable to complete the age old beep test to the correct level for selection.

But it was something she had to put to the back of her mind quickly as she set out to earn selection anyway.

"At first I didn't make it and it really put you down but you had to forget about it and stay positive to keep training across the weekend," Lawson said.

The former GH Blue A Grade star instead had to re-complete the beep test on home turf last weekend and she had some high power help alongside her.

"(Hockeyroo) Gabi Nance did the test beside me. Her pushing me in the beep was definitely the reason I was able to make it," she said.

"I am now going to push myself even harder than what I have been doing."

The Grafton pair will have two months of intense training ahead of the titles in Tasmania on April 19-29, including several sessions in Sydney and Newcastle.



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