Talented Wodonga hockey prospect Fraser Cullen has been selected to join the Australian Country under 21 men’s team for a week-long tour of Fiji.
A gruelling schedule of eight games in as many days in the Pacific awaits the 19-year-old striker.
Acclimatising to the tropical summer will be the first hurdle for Cullen before the tournament starts on Saturday.
The series of test matches against Fiji's President's XI and the Fiji Warriors will aid in their preparation for international tournaments in 2017.
Fiji has a long history in the sport.
Both their men’s and women’s teams have qualified for the second round of the Hockey World League, but only the men will be attending the tournament in 2017.
The Fiji women will be entering the Oceania Cup which is being held in Sydney in October 2017 and is the Oceania qualifying tournament for the 2018 World Cup.
Cullen was picked in this year's team after being a member of the Victoria Country men's team that played in the Country National Championships in Darwin last August.
For Cullen, his selection in the 18-man touring squad is his highest sporting achievement to date and a great opportunity and achievement for the sport he has played competitively since he was seven.
“I’m very excited, it has come up really quickly,” Cullen said.
“It’s a big achievement and I’m still enjoying playing so I will keep looking to go to the next step.
“I always have those big dreams, but I’ll keep taking the small steps and see what happens.”
The team is made up of players from throughout country Australia who will come together for the tournament.
Cullen was a member of the Hockey Albury-Wodonga Spitfires team during 2016 that travelled regularly to Canberra to play in the ACT Capital League tournament.
Following the trip, he will make the move to study commerce at university in Geelong next year and hopes to find a new home at Melbourne club in the Hockey Victoria Premier League.
Albury’s Samantha Daly will also feature on the country hockey scene in 2017 after being named the vice-captain of the senior country women’s team earlier this year.
Daly, along with North Albury’s Samantha Campbell, will tour internationally with the squad in 2017.
Since 2008, the senior country teams have travelled to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and New Zealand, competing in a variety of events and games against various national teams, and, in April 2017, will introduce Vietnam into their schedule.