Ipswich brigade earn Asian tour
FROM representing Ipswich to South West to Queensland to Australia.
A group of the city's best hockey players have made it to international level after impressing at the Australian Country Championships in Toowoomba.
Easts trio Chris Mantell, Steve Bayliss and Chris Fazel were chosen in the national country team along with Norths goal-scoring ace Dean Jeffrey.
Norths speedster Aaron O'Bierne made the Australian under-21 country side.
Dual-registered Ipswich teenager Jade Emblem, who plays for Ipswich Wests, was chosen in the national under-21 women's side after the week-long Australian Country carnival.
Mantell, Bayliss, O'Bierne and Emblem represented Queensland Country teams which made Saturday's grand finals.
Fazel lined up for the Australian Defence Force team and Jeffrey played for South Australia during the week.
For Mantell, earning an Australian Country honour was a special achievement as part of the outstanding Ipswich connection.
"It was my first time ever in Queensland Country as well so I was a bit surprised to be picked," Mantell said.
He'll join the other national country players on a tour to Malaysia and Singapore in April.
Bayliss and Jeffrey have previously represented Australian Country.
Mantell, Bayliss and Fazel play together for Easts in the Ipswich competition.
"It will be really good to have the Ipswich guys in the national side," Mantell said.
Mantell, 26, played in the centre midfield or fullback for Queensland Country, enjoying his higher level experience after successes with Ipswich and South West Queensland earlier this year.
"They were a really good bunch of blokes," Mantell said of his latest representative side.
"Being my first trip away, I was unsure what to expect.
"I thought it was real high quality hockey."
The national players were named after the Queensland men lost their final 2-1 to NSW and the Queensland women beat NSW 4-1 in their first-place playoff.
"We played pretty well. We were undefeated coming into the final," Mantell said.
"We drew with NSW in the pool game and the rest of the games we just did enough to win."
However, the final was disappointing with Queensland getting behind and failing to convert its chances - see story below.
Like the other players in the Ipswich connection, Mantell's focus switches back to preparing for the A-grade finals in a few weeks.