An Anzac Day battle where she will line up in goal for the Vantage Black Sticks Women is a long way from Maryborough in Queensland, Australia where Grace O’Hanlon grew up. O’Hanlon endeared herself to New Zealand’s sporting public in 2018 when her shootout performance against England in the semifinal of the Commonwealth Games saw her help New Zealand into the final and ultimately the Gold Medal. Ahead of the Anzac Day match Grace spoke to us and provided some insights into New Zealand culture and her Australian accent.
Q - How difficult is it to line up against Australia?
Grace – It is tough, though playing with some of the Australian girls for so many years does add a bit of inside knowledge on occasion. I feel as if I have something to prove to them. Hands down, Australia vs New Zealand matches are my favourite. It does always make it tough when half of your family are there in yellow, when they forget which country you are representing.
Q – Does playing Australia provide you any extra motivation?
Grace – Most Certainly. I am lining up against some of my oldest and best friends. At the end of the day, after a loss to strangers, you never have to see or speak to them. Friends you do, it is much nicer to look your friends in the eye the next day as a winner.
Q – What has been the hardest part about adjusting to New Zealand Culture?
Grace – Australians are loud and obnoxious (in an endearing way). I never quite realized how much so until I moved to New Zealand, where everyone is much more mellow. I have tried to adjust and tone it down – though you may need to ask my teammates if I’ve managed that.
Q – What aspect of being an Australian does the team wind you up about the most?
Grace – The true-blue accent. I can’t win. Even when I try to adopt an “iccent” I tend to cop heat for trying too hard. I also call Countdown “Woolworths” and that tends to really rile everyone up
Q – Why do you think the rivalry between the two countries is so intense?
Grace – We love to hate each other. Siblings love each other, but when there’s a contest to be had its generally to the death.
Grace and the Vantage Black Sticks Women will be taking to the turf against Australia on Anzac Day (April 25th). Make sure you are at North Harbour Hockey Stadium to check out all the action as the New Zealand Women look to make it two wins in a row against the Hockeyroos.