“Not too many teams get to play at home for a Paralympic Games or a World Championship and no team has ever done what we’re trying to do. But we know there is extra pressure playing at home. It’s easier to get distracted.”
Australian head coach Brad Dubberley believes he has put together a wheelchair rugby team capable of making history at their home World Championships from 5-10 August in Sydney. Dubberley believes the defending champions can become the first team to win the world title on home court.
“This is our strongest line-up," Dubberley said. "We are at full strength which hasn’t been the case in some recent tournaments, so to be able to have all our best players fit, available and ready to go and for us to choose our best team is an awesome position to be in."
“Not too many teams get to play at home for a Paralympic Games or a World Championship and no team has ever done what we’re trying to do.
“But we know there is extra pressure playing at home. It’s easier to get distracted,” he continued.
“More of the guys have friends and family at games, there is extra attention from media and the public but we understand all that. A big part of our plan is to minimise distractions as much as possible and keep attacking.”
The 11-man squad is captained by Ryley Batt. He is one of eight players who were part of the triumphant Rio 2016 campaign, while six featured in the 2014 Worlds victory in Denmark.
Only Jake Howe and Josh Nicholson have not previously won a gold medal at a major tournament.
“We always step it up at the big tournaments, it’s a different level and it’s a different team atmosphere,” Batt said. “This time will be another different experience but it should be an advantage and that’s the way we are seeing it.”
The 12-team tournament at Sydney Olympic Park sees two pools of six, with Australia set to meet Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Japan and Sweden in Pool A.
The complete story on the Steelers’ wheelchair rugby team can be found on the Australian Paralympic Committee’s website.
Ryley Batt (3.5)
Jake Howe (1.0)
Mick Ozanne (0.5)
Jason Lees (1.0)
Ben Fawcett (0.5)
Chris Bond (3.5)
Ryan Scott (0.5)
Andrew Edmondson (2.0)
Andrew Harrison (2.0)
Josh Nicholson (2.0)
Jayden Warn (3.0)