A name like Kate Hollywood deserves to be up in lights.


But the Hockeyroos strike weapon is still pleasantly surprised that her team have taken centre stage at the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Hockey is officially the hottest game in town for the Games, with more tickets pre-sold for it than any other sport in Delhi.

And as the defending champions, the Hockeyroos will be thrust squarely in the limelight.

It should be no surprise in a nation where hockey players are “treated like kings” and their feats inspire Bollywood films.

However, it is still a refreshing role reversal for the Hockeyroos.

Apart from the Commonwealth Games or Olympics, hockey usually only enjoys bit-part status in Australian sport.

But not in India – as the Hockeyroos have quickly found out.

“Hockey is huge here so there is a great atmosphere, always a good crowd at games,” said Hollywood.

It is an eye opener for 21-year-old Casey Eastham, one of seven Games debutants in the squad.

“You talk to the boys (Kookaburras and) they came over here and were treated like kings – that’s the impression I get,” Eastham said.

“Hockey is so big over here.”

Looking forward to the pressure

Hockeyroos captain Madonna Blyth hoped her team would not get stage fright in their new role of headliners.

“For us it is a pleasure to come to India and play in crowds that appreciate hockey and love the sport as much as we do,” she said.

“There might be a bit of pressure, but for us it is looking forward to playing in that environment we are not used to playing in.”

The Hockeyroos have ruled Games hockey, dropping just one game way back in 2002 since the sport’s inclusion in 1998.

But recent form has been disappointing – they are looking to bounce back after finishing fifth at the World Cup.

Injuries, coach to quit

Coach Frank Murray later announced he would quit the job after Delhi.

Their hopes of giving Murray a triumphant sendoff have been hampered by injuries to Kobie McGurk and Teneal Attard and the retirement of Kim Walker and Hope Munro.

And they have a tough schedule.

Four of their first five games are during the day, promising a baptism of fire for the young Hockeyroos.

“For a sport like hockey that is so physical it is a big ask,” Blyth said of the schedule.

“But we have brought a team that is in great shape physically, we feel we are capable of beating teams in the middle of the day.

“While it is going to be hot and sweaty … it is something that is not beyond us as a team.”

Eastham hardly seemed fazed by the challenge.

“We are a young and less experienced team (than Melbourne) but with that comes enthusiasm,” she said.

“This is our final tournament of the year so we are going to give it everything.

“We are going to hold nothing back.”

England loom as their biggest threat after finishing third in the World Cup.