Ipswich representative hockey player Layla Eleison (left) gets heavily involved in her opening A Grade club game of the season against Swifts on Saturday night.
Ipswich representative hockey player Layla Eleison (left) gets heavily involved in her opening A Grade club game of the season against Swifts on Saturday night. Carl Groenewald

Layla's extra effort chasing Qld honours

BEING in such high demand, Layla Eleison enjoyed the opportunity to open a new hockey season for her Ipswich club.

She fulfilled her usual spirited role in Hancocks' 0-0 draw with last year's grand finalists Swifts on Saturday night.

However, playing two top grade games in one day quickly set the tempo for the months ahead.

The Queensland under-18 representative is also lining up for Easts in the Brisbane competition this season.

The Ipswich talent played a noon game in Easts' 4-1 loss to Ascot before heading home to join her Hancocks teammates that night.

"I'm committed to both,'' Eleison, 18, said.

"I'll try to play as many club games as I can for each club.''

With Ipswich A Grade matches scheduled for Friday nights and Sundays, Eleison is hopeful she can manage the two games each weekend when they don't clash.

"That will be really good,'' she said.

Given fitness is a crucial part of rising through the ranks, Eleison has already set a fine foundation for the 2017 season.

She recently played in six of eight Queensland development team matches against the Canadian national team on the Gold Coast.

"That was a very high number of games for my age,'' she said.

"I was very lucky to play that amount of games compared to other girls.''

She was happy with her performance over the fortnight.

"I played in a few different positions,'' she said. "It was really good to experience playing with more Hockeyroos (national players) than I have before because they've come back over from Perth for a break and they played as well.''

The high intensity series benefited Eleison as she pushes to secure a spot in Queensland's under-21 team for the nationals in Wollongong in July.

"The tournament was actually really tough,'' she said. "We were expecting it to be tough but not as physical.''

Preparing for the international series, Eleison did extra training with Ipswich regional coaching director Sam Spry.

Before the under-21 trials, she will also play for South West Queensland in the annual Super League championships next month.

"I'm feeling fitter but I still have a long way to go,'' she said keen to further her hockey career.

As for her latest Hancocks club game, the former St Mary's College student enjoyed the workout in a youth-laden Hancocks side.

"It was a tough match,'' she said.

"We had great defence. Miranda McNamara came back. She's taken on a leadership role (at fullback) because Kayla Tierney isn't playing this year.''

Eleison also praised new goalkeeper Sharna Hannent, from the Sunshine Coast, for making a solid debut for Hancocks.

Layla's younger sister Abby, also a state junior representative, is concentrating on A Grade this year after previous bench roles.

Abby is playing in the halves, working off centre half/striker Layla.

"It was a very good hit-out,'' Layla said of Saturday night's game.

"We thought we were going to struggle a bit because we haven't really played much together but we definitely did well considering they (Swifts) are grand finalists from last year.''

The exciting youth playing for Hancocks is in a team being coached for the first time by Layla's uncle Mark.

Her father Brendan previously coached the team to a premiership.

"He (Mark) is really patient with us. He's a lot like my dad,'' she said.

High quality duel

DEFENDING premiers Norths made a winning start to the new season, holding out a revitalised Easts combination 5-4 in the first game of the A Grade season.

A hat-trick to Tim Woodford on Friday night showed the Tigers would be a competitive force back in top grade.

"We were ahead for 80 per cent of the game,'' assistant coach and Easts club president Paul Malcolm said.

"I was pretty happy with how the A Grade boys went considering we just put the team together.

"To be that close with last year's premiership winners was a really good sign for the season to come.

"It was a fairly high quality game. There were some really good touches for both teams.''

Wests also won their first game having bolstered their playing depth in the off-season. The Magpies men beat Hancock Brothers 2-0 on Sunday.

The Wests women declared their season intentions by outclassing Bellbowrie 9-0 as they go about defending their grand final success last season. State representative Gabby Nicholls scored a hat-trick in Sunday's match at the Ipswich Hockey Complex. Former international striker Amy Kickbusch, Eden Jackat, Erin Mackay and Jess Wilkinson also contributed goals.

Hancocks and Swifts drew 0-0 in Saturday night's game.

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