Australia confident of continued success at International Invitational Challenge
Australian sides will return to the Oztag field for the first time since dominating the 2018 Tag World Cup at this month’s International Invitational Challenge on the Central Coast.
Australia won 18 of the 22 divisions at last year’s tournament and will take plenty of confidence into the one day event later this month.
“It’s been a while since the teams have played together so everyone is really looking forward to getting back on the field in the green and gold jersey,” Australian Oztag director Gary Kinkade told Oztag Australia.
“The teams for this tournament were picked back at the 2018 Australian Championships up in Coffs Harbour. Our coaches created a shortlist of roughly 20-30 players in each division and then picked a final squad of 16-18 to play later this month.”
21 Australian sides will compete in 20 divisions at the invitational, with an Australian U17s development set to compete in the Boys 18s division.
“It gives those boys a little bit more experience playing at International level and I think it will help them a lot as they push into the 18s division the following year,” Kinkade said.
Teams from Lebanon, Italy, China, Vietnam, Greece, Ireland, Indigenous Australian and Pacific Islands will look to upset Australia in a number of divisions.
“Lebanon will be very strong in the Men’s Opens. A lot of that side comes from Homebush and they’ve been the dominant side at the past few Nationals and NSW State Cups. But our Men’s Opens seem pretty confident that they can do the job so it’ll be interesting to watch.
“The Australian Women’s Opens side will also play their first tournament without their long term coach Karen Smith.
“Their new coach Matty Pateman has some big shoes to fill, but he’s very experienced and has been involved in Oztag since 1997, so I’m confident he’s up to it. He said he isn’t looking to change a whole lot so hopefully those girls can continue their success.
“The Pacific Island sides will also be very strong. They play a slightly different style of Tag to the Australian sides and they have lots of skill and speed.”
The Men’s Opens division will be particularly tight with Australia looking to bounce back after missing the final of last year’s World Cup but Kinkade seems confident his sides will be able to impress on home soil.
“I’d like to see Australia win every division, that’s my goal and that’s what we’ve been focusing on. That’s not to say that most of the divisions won’t be tight, we’ll need to play our best but I’m confident all of our sides will do very well.”
The 2019 International Invitational Challenge kicks off at Bateau Bay on September 22 at 8:30am with finals to begin at 3:30pm.