Blyth’s spirit strong
AT JUST 28, Hockeyroos captain Madonna Blyth has already played for her country an astonishing 277 times.
That puts her just behind Rechelle Hawkes who clocked up 279 games and record holder Nikki Hudson on 303.
But with the Hockey World Cup coming up in The Hague next month, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July and and the Champions trophy in Argentina in November, breaking the record is the last thing on the Queenslander's mind.
The team is in the middle of a gruelling training schedule after just returning from the Six Nations Tournament in New Zealand, but Blyth told APN the players were looking forward to the challenge of a hectic program.
"We had a three-hour session today just covering some physical and practical stuff," Blyth said. "And now I'm about the head to the gym.
"But we had some time off over Easter, and I'm feeling great ... so are all the girls.
"We're all pretty excited about the big schedule ahead of us."
The fourth-ranked Hockeyroos finished second to world No.2 Argentina in New Zealand, giving Blyth confidence the team can improve on its fifth-placed finish at the last World Cup in Argentina in 2010.
"We've had new coaching staff come in since then, and our players have shown a lot of improvement over the past 18 months to two years," she said.
Speaking of challenges, Blyth said the biggest one for her would be taking on Argentinian captain Lucian Aymar, the winner of he FIH world player of the year at 36 in 2013, again at the World Cup.
"She's been the world's best player for the past six or seven years,"Blyth said.
In terms of creating her own history and breaking Hudson's record, which could happen at the Champions Trophy later this year, Blyth laughed it off.
"It makes me feel old," she said.
"But to break Nikki's record would be special - she was my captain at the Hockeyroos for four or five years and brought a real relaxed approach, as well as being a fantastic player.
"But mine, and the team's focus, is on the World Cup first. We have high expectations going in to that tournament."