The 12-strong Australian Steelers squad for Rio 2016 has officially been announced by the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) at a ceremony on the Gold Coast, which concluded an intensive three-day training camp.
Headlined by captain and three-time Paralympian Ryan Scott, the Steelers’ line-up includes eight members of the gold medal team from London 2012 as well as debutants Ben Fawcett, Jayden Warn, Matt Lewis and Andrew Edmondson.
London 2012 veterans Chris Bond, Andrew Harrison, Josh Hose and Jason Lees return for their second Games appearance, while Naz Erdem, Ryley Batt and Cameron Carr will help form the experienced core of the team with nine Paralympic Games between them.
Australian coach Brad Dubberley believes it is a side very capable of winning back-to-back Paralympic gold medals.
“We obviously set the benchmark in London 2012, but I think this team gives us more depth than we have ever had,” Dubberley said.
“We probably had two world class line-ups in London but this team has at least three which gives us a lot of confidence heading into Rio. This is the strongest team we possibly could have picked.”
No Australian team had won a gold medal in wheelchair rugby before London 2012.
“We’re ready for anything,” Dubberley said.
“We know it’s going to be extremely tough to win back-to-back gold at the Paralympics but we’re looking forward to the challenge.
“This will be the closest Paralympics I have ever seen. Any of the world’s top five teams could win it.
“Great Britain has improved more than any other team in the past 18 months and we play them in our first game, Canada has been ranked number one in the past year, the USA just took back the number one ranking, Japan is a threat and then there’s us.
“We’re just excited to get over there. The team has now been unveiled which is always an exciting day and now we just want to get to Rio and get the job done.”
Kate McLoughlin, Chef de Mission of the Australian Paralympic Team, said she cannot wait to see the Steelers hit the court in their first match against Great Britain on 14 September.
“The Steelers have lifted the benchmark for wheelchair rugby globally in recent years, and I have no doubt they will do the same in Rio,” McLoughlin said.
“The Australian wheelchair rugby team is a big part of the APC family. The management of the Australian wheelchair rugby high performance programme is something we take great pride in, and I know every single one of my colleagues will be right behind the Steelers in Rio, as will the rest of Australia, I’m sure.”
The 2016 Australian Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby Team:
Ryan Scott (c)
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.