Hockey: Injured Rio Olympian Mariah Williams shoots for national return in first Pro League

TESTING TIMES: Rio Olympian Mariah Williams is aiming for next year's FIH Pro League. Photo: Josh Callinan
TESTING TIMES: Rio Olympian Mariah Williams is aiming for next year's FIH Pro League. Photo: Josh Callinan

A hamstring strain has halted Mariah Williams’ return to international hockey as the Rio Olympian aims to be back fully fit for next year’s inaugural Pro League. 

Williams, who has been staying with her parents at Teralba during the Australian Hockey League (AHL) this month, will more than likely skip the Hockeyroos’ campaign at the Champions Trophy in China in November.  

Instead, the 23-year-old striker wants to be right for eight Tests on home soil in the space of six weeks, starting against world No.1 the Netherlands in Melbourne on February 2.  

“My next goal is the Pro League,” Williams said.

“That’s an important one (tournament) now, because it’s also an Olympic qualifier.

“If the hammy was ok, then yes I’d want to be back playing [earlier]. But because of the hammy, I just want to take it easy and not rush back.

“It’s a little hard after being out (of the Hockeyroos) for a year. This way, having the rest of the year off, I get a few months of preparation under my belt and be right to go come February.” 

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Williams, who has 63 caps and seven goals for the Australian women’s team, missed this year’s Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and recent World Cup in London following groin surgery in February. 

The former Parkes junior has since played some club hockey for Hale in Perth, first returning to the field in August, but sustained the hamstring injury training with the national squad last month.

She was named to represent NSW in round two of the AHL in Tasmania less than a fortnight ago, but hasn’t yet played a game.   

Williams was due to train with the Arrows in Sydney on October 23, but was an uncertain starter for the interstate finals series on the Gold Coast. 

NSW met Western Australia in the quarters on Thursday.

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