250-cap Zalewski to be Kookaburras' Olympic captain

Aran Zalewski has urged his Kookaburras' team to enjoy the time of their lives after being named the man to lead them into battle at the Olympic hockey tournament.

The 33-year-old was left honoured at being appointed the team's sole captain for the 2024 season as they seek to go one better in Paris than in Tokyo 2021 where Zalewski was in the side that ended up with silver.

The announcement was made as the Kookaburras build up for the Perth International Festival of Hockey, with home-grown Zalewski celebrating his appointment by leading the team against India in his 250th appearance for Australia on Saturday.

"I obviously love the Kookaburras, it's such a big part of my life, all of our lives, so I really want to enjoy this year. I think we all want to give it hell," Zalewski told his teammates on Wednesday after being unveiled, to much applause, as the new skipper by coach Colin Batch. 

Zalewski will be making his 250th appearance in the green and gold of Australia.

And Margaret River's Zalewski reckoned he would be taking a leaf out of Australian cricket captain Pat Cummins' book as he promised to savour the whole experience.

"I was listening to something that Pat said the other day, talking about travelling away, spending lots of time out on the pitch, and being away from family, and a lot of us are doing that now," Zalewski told his colleagues.

"And if you're going to do that, why not make it the best time of your life? So that's what I want to do with this group. Let's have a good year - and let's make it the best time of our lives."

Previously, the Kookaburras had co-captains but Batch revealed the leadership group had decided there should be just be one skipper this year in a campaign which has begun brilliantly with seven wins in eight Pro League fixtures.

The honour has fallen to Zalewski, popularly known as 'Moose', who began his stellar international career by scoring in a 5-0 win over India nearly 13 years ago as a 20-year-old.

"It's very exciting playing 250 games for Australia and it's moments like these you reflect on your career and think about all of the good things and moments you've had over time," said Zalewski, the FIH Pro League's best player in 2019 who's also won three Commonwealth golds and played at three Olympics.

"What comes to mind is just how great the journey's been, how many different people I've met, the friends I've met and the family that come along for the ride.'

Explaining why Zalewski, previously a co-captain, got the big job, Batch explained: '"Aran has a calming influence on the group, a good awareness of where we're at and he's a good on-field leader because his mindset is stable. You know he doesn't get highly emotional.

"He's good off the field as well, he's a connecting person who knows how to connect with people. Once you have that connection you can have tricky conversations."

There'll be a special presentation to Zalewski to mark his landmark appearance after Saturday's game, with the new skipper smiling: "I'm really looking forward to representing my family, my town, my river, my state and obviously Australia as well."

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store