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Sunday Age

Hollywood injury a blow

Author: MARTIN BOULTON
Date: 18/07/2010
Words: 666
Source: SAG
          Publication: The Sunday Age
Section: Sport
Page: 21
HOCKEYROOS midfielder Kate Hollywood was on track to play in the World Cup next month until disaster struck during the Australian team's European tour last month.

In the opening game of the month-long tournament, Hollywood was struck on the hand, not something unusual in her sport, but the force of the impact broke the fifth metacarpal in her left hand.

Shortly after the game against Britain she was booked in for surgery. A plate and five screws were inserted into her hand and will stay there for the rest of her career.

Now the 24-year-old finds herself in a race against time to be fit and firing for her maiden World Cup campaign in Argentina, which begins on August 29.

"You get hit all the time on your hands, but it's rare to get a break," she told The Sunday Age while visiting Melbourne this week.

"I remember looking down at my hand and thinking 'that doesn't look too good,' but it's moving well now and the positive thing is it's my hand, so I've been able to do all the fitness work."

Originally from Sydney, Hollywood made her national debut in 2005, but missed the '06 World Cup campaign. The Netherlands won, Australia finished runner-up, but for Hollywood it was all a non-event. "I wasn't there," she says in a matter of fact way.

This year it's a different scenario and after 125 national appearances she plans to do everything to be in the team.

"Hopefully, I'll get picked . . . I hope I played well enough prior to [the surgery] to hold my position.

"You're never confident, we take a different team on every tour we do, so I'd love to say I'm confident, but the coach might want a different combination."

Hollywood is one of four Hockeyroos midfielders, including captain Madonna Blyth, Casey Eastham and Hope Munro, who will be high on coach Frank Murray's ideal combination. Eastham, 21, also has a testing period ahead as she battles to overcome a knee injury picked up in Europe. Hollywood is confident her younger teammate will overcome it and be available for the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October.

Despite the injury concerns, Hollywood said the European tour was a positive experience for the national team, with five players making their debut in green and gold.

Jayde Taylor, Kate Hubble and Kate Jenner were among those five and Hollywood said it was important "to learn the different playing styles" of teammates ahead of a major tournament. "It was a really positive tour, we only lost one game out of the 10 and learnt a lot as a team," she said.

And the team has a vastly different look in the wake of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with Nikki Hudson, Angie Lambert and Melanie Wells all making way for a new generation of players.

Hollywood, who lives in Perth near the national training centre, already feels like a veteran member of the squad. "This is my sixth year in the national team and it's been an amazing experience," she said. "I've travelled to so many places, it's taught me a lot both on and off-field and the ups and downs of sport makes you a resilient person."

Her hand injury  like the compartment syndrome she had earlier in her career  is just another test in her eyes. "I think I have an old body," she said with a laugh.

After quad, hamstring and symptoms of osteitis pubis at different stages, she's found ways to manage her body. "Regular maintenance, massage, acupuncture . . . it's all part of monitoring myself these days."

Beyond her immediate dreams of playing in the World Cup, she freely admits she'd "love another gold medal" at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

"Obviously, we're going there to win it and I would love another gold medal, I'm not going to lie. It was pretty special playing in Melbourne [in 2006] with all my family here and my friends there  it was my first multi-sport competition and it was amazing."

 
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