Women's hockey talking points: Maddie Hinch calls for 'smarter thinking' from Great Britain

Rod Gilmour
Olympic champion Maddie Hinch recently returned to the international set up - Getty Images

"We are a nation that's classically proud of ourselves in our defence, and how hard we are to beat, and that has slipped away from us recently."

So said a forthright Maddie Hinch in the aftermath of Great Britain's 4-2 defeat to Australia on Sunday, their third game in their last four conceding four goals.

The 30-year-old, returning for her first batch of matches in Great Britain colours since last summer, had a point. During Britain's Olympic qualification tournament and Rio campaign, they played 16 matches and leaked 10 goals. In their last four Pro League matches they have shipped 14 goals alone.

"It's the sloppiness and naivety around our reaction to goals and momentum shifts in games which is killing us at the minute," she added.

"All of us, including myself, have to step up and do better going forward. We have to believe in ourselves a bit more. We aren't in the fight defensively and we have to think smarter."

The test continues against Holland on Saturday when the world champions return to London for the first time since winning the 2018 World Cup.

Hinch will don the helmet against players she knows well, having played a full season in the revered Dutch Hoofdklasse after leaving the GB central programme.

"We've showed we can score goals, play hockey and compete with these teams," Hinch added of GB's attacking play. "With the Dutch, you're so aware of how good they are. But you have to be up for the fight."

We need to be more ruthless, says Hager

GB coach Mark Hager will hope to welcome back Lily Owsley from injury this weekend. GB's top scorer, with four Pro League goals, has been sidelined with a groin problem, with Hager forced to shift some half backs as midfielders in the process. 

While this will be seen as a major boost ahead of the Holland game and their final match at The Stoop the week after, the Australian still stressed the need to be more disciplined at the back. "A lot of it is down to our one on one defending, being more ruthless and winning those contests," he said. "Hollie Pearne-Webb is doing so much for us defensively and we aren't supporting her enough."

GB's teenage kicks

On Friday, we saw a passage of play which underlined Britain's continued willingness to nurture young talent in this inaugural Pro League. It came in their defeat to Germany, but not before Esme Burge, 19, cut through two German defenders, weaved into the circle and laid a perfect pass for 18-year-old Izzy Petter to angle a shot high into the net. "They are exciting young players," said Hager. "Esme got us up at 3-2 [against Germany] and today she gave us the spark and got the ball in the circle."

Munday stays clear of funding 

There was an interesting side note from Great Britain Hockey's recent board meeting minutes. Convening in March, Sally Munday, the outgoing chief executive who will join UK Sport in the same role in the autumn, confirmed that she will not be involved "in any way with any funding decisions relating to hockey in her new role."