BUNDABERG'S Nigel Rach can't contain his excitement as he prepares to represent his country for the first time.
Next week, Rach will travel to New Zealand with fellow Bundaberg hockey players Angela Asnicar and Dean Wightman to compete for Australia in the Trans-Tasman masters challenge series against the Kiwis.
At the event, men's and women's teams in over-35s, 40s, 45s, 50s, 55s, 60s and 65s will play in three games to determine a winner between the two countries.
The results will then be calculated to determine an overall winner.
Rach, who will compete in the over-35s, said he can't wait.
"I'm looking forward to it and it will be a good experience,” he said.
"We got together as a team in January and it went really well.”
Rach said he hoped he could contribute meaningfully in his maiden tournament.
"Most of us in the team are versatile and can play in multiple positions,” he said.
"I want to make sure I do well and put myself in contention for the World Cup in Barcelona next year.”
Asnicar will compete in the over-45 women's team in what will be her second appearance at the challenge.
Wightman is a member of the over-45 men's team.
In his fourth appearance, he said the Kiwis would be tough to beat.
"Their sides are physical but play in the right spirit,” he said.
"The competition is also at a different level to local or Queensland hockey.”
And Wightman said he had put in a lot of work just to be ready.
"I've been training since November, five days a week,” he said.
"We also had a camp in February at the AIS in Canberra.
"I'm hoping we can win 3-0 but I'll take a 2-1 win.”
Wightman the new Just Hockey shop for providing the trio with equipment for the trip.
The tournament in Whangarei starts on May 2 with the players leaving on April 29.