Connor Holland’s extraordinary hockey journey is taking another leap this week.
The Shepparton ace, 16, is taking on his second Hockey Australia Under-18 Boys Outdoor Championships in as many years, adding more Victorian caps to his growing list of achievements.
The national tournament — which is being held in Launceston from March 13-21 — is already under way, and Holland’s Vics have started in the best possible fashion.
Victoria smashed Northern Territory 8-2 in the first clash on Tuesday to storm to the top of Pool A.
Speaking before he left for the Apple Isle, Holland said the Victorian squad had only one thing on its mind.
‘‘There’s a pretty good culture at trainings and stuff, so we’ll just keep working towards what we want to do, which is win,’’ he said.
‘‘That’s all we want to do, just win tournaments and come out on top.’’
Holland feels his hockey is going from strength to strength in recent months, after also representing the Victorian 16-and-under side at the Pacific School Games late last year and gaining Australian selection from that tournament, and hopes to have more impact at the current championships than he believed he did last year.
‘‘It’s probably the best I’ve felt playing hockey for a bit, so I’m pretty confident in myself and what I can do,’’ he said.
‘‘We had a couple of injuries in the backline (last year), so I went down back to see if I could secure down there and didn’t really do too good of a job.
‘‘(But) it was good, last year was in Hobart and it’s in Launceston this year and hopefully we can go a bit better (after missing the finals last year).’’
Selection in the national squad will have Holland trek to South Africa later this year, and a solid performance in the current tournament will hold him in good stead when he returns to his own age group — but he doesn’t want to stay there for long, with further accolades in his sights.
‘‘It’s not until the middle of the year, but I’m pretty excited about it,’’ he said.
‘‘Hopefully I can get noticed by a couple of the selectors and put my name up for AHL (Australian Hockey League) selection, as well as under-21s and stuff like that.’’
Victoria faced ACT late yesterday afternoon in the under-18 championships, and plays Tasmania, NSW and Queensland to round out the qualifying stages.