Australian ‘All Stars’ match impressions


This match was promoted as a showcase event to entertain and ‘teach’ the participants of the National U18s championship. It came at the end of a week-long camp for the senior Australian squad. The players were divided into two teams:

The ‘North’ team had Joel Dennerley, Gavin Woods, Rhys Howden, Billy Miller, Anthony Martin, Richard Campbell, Johnno Cotterill, Samuele Avallone, Tyler Martin, Daniel Young, Mitchell Baird, BJ Howden and James Clark.

The ‘South’ included Carl Zvekan, Blake Edwards, Joel Swift, Daniel Lawrence, Sam McGregor, Scott Carpenter (England), Matt Martin, Tomas Bruder (Slovakia), Jamie Beardsworth, Tim Cleland, Trent Franklin, Thomas Whalan and Luke Quinlivan.

But judging from their body language and the way many players acted in the course of the game, for the Australian squad members it was more than just an exhibition match. Apparently, it was one of the events upon which a selection decision would be made. That must be the explanation as to why most of the players appeared somewhat nervous and had a look of uncertainty about them.

Because of the above-mentioned reasons, overall, the game itself was not as entertaining or interesting as a display of good skills for the young audience as it could have been otherwise. With the exception of several instances, most players were making the right moves from the stand point of text-book water polo. But, unlike in the past, nowadays, it is a norm. There were bad passes and shots as far as individual skills are concerned. And the collective tactics, utilized by both teams, could be described as rather one dimensional. Most of the time, it was heavy pressing on the perimeter with the centre-forward and centre-back ‘killing’ each other in the ‘hole’.

Perhaps, one of the reasons as to why most players did not look sharp was the fatigue factor caused by the work load at the camp preceding that match.

There appeared to be a specific allocation of perimeter positions for particular players. It often seemed the case that both teams’ players who specialized as centre-forwards ended up on top of the attacking ‘umbrella’ rather than on one of the ‘wings’, closer to the opposition’s goals.  Why have those players in the water if they were not meant to do their job in that capacity, apparently as a second CF? Besides, there were better shooters who should have been on top of the perimeter.

The ‘North’ team was converting its goal-scoring opportunities – in particular power-play chances – better than ‘South’. The ‘North’ were also able to capitalize on the referees’ turn-over calls when the opponents least expected it, scoring several goals from those chances.

Despite the regular camps that these athletes have participated in, the players, who come from one club, had a better understanding and cooperation with each other. For example, the link between Cotterill and Campbell from Wests did well in converting two extra-man opportunities. The same could be said about Lawrence and Swift who play for Melville.

Given the above-mentioned, I am not sure as to what can be derived from the match as far as selection decisions are concerned. It seemed that not much has changed since last January when the American team was in Australia. Some candidates looked more uncertain than three months ago.  And those who have not been seriously considered previously looked as good as those who were; for example, Tyler Martin and Dan Young, who both scored good solid goals.

Score: ‘North’ 9 : 5 ‘South’

X-man: ‘North’ 6/3 (50%), ‘South’ 9/2 (22%)

Turn-over calls:  ‘North’ 3, ‘South’ 5

Referees: Andrew Carney and Daniel Flahive

If it was indeed a selection trial, some questions come to mind to which,  undoubtedly, well justified answers exist.

A number of the candidates – for example, Aaron Younger, Rob Maitland and Aidan Roach – were not present. Are they still being considered or not? If yes, on what basis are they going to be judged?

Perhaps, both teams could have had lesser numbers of participating athletes. No disrespect is meant to Englishman, Scott Carpenter, and Slovakian, Tomas Bruder, but, perhaps, more pool time could and should have been given to the Australian candidates to show their credentials, if that was the purpose of the match. Besides there are other Australian players, who did not participate in that match, who are as good as Carpenter and Bruder to say the least.

Since last January, when Australia played against a strong US team, there have not been the matches against top international team(s). Whilst there may have been objective reasons for not organizing them, such matches would have been a true test in preference to the exhibition game that was staged during the U18 National championships.

Based upon the experience that many of the squad members have, the Australian men’s team can achieve a good result in London provided the right selection decisions are made and it arrives in London in good shape.

We wish them well!

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

11 Responses to Australian ‘All Stars’ match impressions

  1. Csilla Kicsi says:

    Thank You Erkin! Your Blog is great and inspires/helps (specially young players) to understand how they can play BETTER and BETTER water polo!
    Csilla Kicsi

  2. Graeme says:

    Not sure if you saw the whole game Erkin, but Luke Quinlivan played the 2nd and 4th quarters for the South team.

    Secondly, as far as I am aware and listening to some people in the crowd, the teams were selected by the National League coaches for their respective regions. From watching the game, south seemed to be a bigger, heavier team and unfortunately only had one real CB In Tim Cleland. The northern team was ably equipped in all areas from cf’s, cb’s and drivers for both sides of the pool.

    I thought the coaching staff of the south did a good job trying to restrict the potent northern attacking weapons. It looked like the south players tried to match the speed of the north early. I heard the south coaches telling the players to maintain possession and play the full clocks.

    Also from what you mentioned and I saw at the game, I feel the northern team was game ready, probably from the large number of national team members coming from the camp. Those not involved in the national squad seemed to be under done and lacking game fitness – probably because they haven’t had a National League game in two weeks!!!

  3. Mark McNamara says:

    Erkin,

    Can you name your preferred Olympic team for Australia?

  4. Dear ‘Graeme’, If you would like me to respond to your comments, please submit your proper full name and a verifiable email address. Thank you for your interest.

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