Hockey: Dawson leans on legend ahead of World Cup showdown

BIG MOMEMT: North Newcastle defender Matt Dawson will line up for against Holland in the World Cup semi-final on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan CarrollThey’re the pre-World Cup words still ringing in Matt Dawson’s ears.

And it’s a message the Kookaburras defender will be leaning on when meet the Netherlands in Sunday morning’s World Cup semi-final against Netherlands.

Since making his debut three years ago, North Newcastle product Dawson has soaked in every ounce of knowledge from Mark Knowles before the hockey legend’s retirement this year.

And despite Knowles enjoying his time at home in Queensland, the former captain hasn’t stopped dishing out pearls of wisdom to his former teammates.

“He’s pretty active around the group still. He loves talking to us, wishing us luck. He’s an active watcher from the east coast, which is nice,” Dawson said.

“Just before the World Cup, I was talking to him leading up just about little tips on how to deal with a major tournament like the World Cup.

“He pretty much said along the lines of how it’s just another tournament, just with a bigger prize at the end.

“He told me to be the player that I am, don’t try to be he or anyone else, which is the greatest tip I’ve had so far.”

Dawson said his time alongside Knowles, who was part of ‘s World Cup triumphs in 2010 and 2014, were invaluable to his development as a player.

“Him openly giving me knowledge and tips of the positions that we were both playing is something I’ll hold very closely,” he said.

“I’m trying to do the same now.

“In my short career I’ve done a lot, which is nice, and being able to pass it on to younger people coming through is something we all continue to do.”

The Kookaburras cruised their early stages of the tournament, and progressed through to the final four with a 3-0 quarter-final win over France.

A win against the fourth-ranked Dutch will see the world No.1 progress to a final against either England or Belgium on Sunday morning (AEDT).

“They’re generally really well structured, a bit football or soccer mentality, which means really good at passing,” Dawson said of the Dutch.

“We played them in four Test matches in Perth this year so we have a really good understanding of their style of play.”

A 2-1 win over the host nation on Thursday booked the fourth-ranked Dutch side’s spot in the last four.

In theother quarter-finals third-ranked Belgium beat Germany 2-1 and England, who shocked world No.2 Argentina by the same scoreline.

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