Sydney University’s Keesja Gofers, Hannah Buckling and Bronte Halligan left this week with the Australian women’s water polo squad to contest the FINA World League Finals in Shanghai, China, this month.
Gofers, the Sydney University Lions captain in the National Women’s Water Polo League, and 18-year-old Halligan, the Lions top scorer in the NWPL finals series, were members of the Australian Stingers successful trip to California last month, when the Aussies won gold in the final of the FINA World League Intercontinental Cup.
Buckling, who recently claimed a bronze medal with Sydney University in the NWPL, missed the trip to California, but was selected on the strength of her international experience at the 2013 FINA World Championships, where the Stingers were silver medallists. She also had a stint playing for the University of Southern California Trojans in 2013.
While the selection news was good for Gofers, Halligan and Buckling, Sydney University’s Isobel Bishop missed out, having been on the successful Californian excursion.
Bishop made way for dual Olympic bronze medallist Bronwen Knox, who has returned as captain of the Stingers for the World League Finals, along with her London Olympic bronze medal winning teammate, Western Australia’s Glencora McGhie, who also missed the Intercontinental Cup triumph.
Halligan has also been named in the Australian team to contest the 2014 FINA World Youth Championships in Madrid in Spain in August. It will be her second World Championship appearance, after representing Australia at the FINA World Junior Championships last year in Greece.
The Stingers will first travel to Kunshan, China, where they will begin preparations for the FINA World League Finals, before travelling to Shanghai for the tournament that starts on Tuesday June 10.
Stingers coach Greg McFadden said he was enthusiastic about the team selected, noting that he is still looking to build the Stingers side ahead of this year’s biggest tournament, the FINA World Cup.
“I’m excited with the team we have selected as it has a great combination of experience and youth,” McFadden said .“The young players learnt a lot while in the USA and performed better with each game and I look forward to them continuing this development. I also think that Bronte Halligan is a very exciting player and I’m looking forward to seeing how she goes with her first international experience.
“We are still looking to build towards the World Cup in August but more importantly keeping an eye on who may be the bolter for the Rio Olympics.”
The Stingers will be among the favourites at the World League finals, courtesy of their win in the Intercontinental Cup, as well as being bolstered with the experience of Knox and McGhie to help guide the team through the tournament.