England Lacrosse travel to Australia on Sunday 4th June. Phil Collier, National Team Director, shares his thoughts ahead of the England Lacrosse’s test series against Australia.
Back in February when the England touring squad was announced, I said that our trip to Australia this summer was really exciting and presented us with a fantastic opportunity for the England Lacrosse Team. After winning the Lacrosse European Championships last year, and more recently retaining the UK Home International trophy, we are ready and eager to take on the challenge of competing at the next level.
This tour will give us a chance to play some tough, top-level lacrosse and create some lifetime memories together. During the first two weeks of June we will be in Melbourne where we have two games against New Zealand, play against each of the four Australian state teams as part of their national championships, and then finish with a series of three test matches against Australia.
If we want to prepare ourselves to compete successfully at next year’s World Cup, then we need to test ourselves against the world’s top national teams. In doing so we know we will face increased levels of intensity, better quality players, better athletes, better decision makers, and more competitive opponents, all leading to closer and more difficult games than we have faced over the last couple of years.
Although England are Europe’s number one team, we have to recognise that England has not won a World Cup game against Australia at the senior level for over 8 years. Our last encounter was a 6-12 defeat in the bronze medal game at the 2013 World Cup in Canada. As such Australia will be favourites to win the 2016 test series, especially with home advantage.
But we believe we have a strong squad, with a great balance of youth and experience and genuine competition for places in all positions. More than half of our squad is aged 23 or under. We also have high expectations of ourselves and so it goes without saying that we want to be competitive in all of our games, and will be looking to win the series against Australia. More importantly we will be looking to deliver good team and individual performances. If we can do that then we are confident that the scoreboard will take care of itself. Make no mistake, the Australian team will be expected to win this series at home and so any pressure of expectation will be on their shoulders.
Although this trip down under is exciting in its own right, we are approaching the experience as an important team learning opportunity. With nine games in nine days, we want to see which of our players can handle the pressure of competing at the top level, we want to test our tactics and playing strategies, and we want to continue to develop our team spirit and winning mentality.
I have played with and against many Australians over the years, always tough competitors on the field, but always great mates after the game. Lacrosse played as it should be. We are looking forward to renewing old friendships and making new ones as part of our trip.
To sum up our team aims we are calling this the four X tour:
What a great opportunity for our players. Can’t wait!