For Nic Porter and Hugh Anstey, the past two weeks have been an eye-opening experience. They have been involved with the Aussie Sharks training camp in the lead up the FINA Men’s World League International Tournament, 25-30 April, on the Gold Coast. The invitation to train with the Senior National Squad came off the back of a strong National League season for both players.

We caught up with Nic and Hugh during the World League Tournament to find more about life inside camp with the Aussie Stingers. “Yeah, it’s a great atmosphere, we’re getting to know the team, new coaches and new staff. I’ve learnt heaps of stuff that I can bring back to QAS training, to help me train harder and hopefully stay in the squad ahead of Tokyo.” said Hugh.

For Nic, the opportunity to train alongside Ed Slade and Anthony Hrysanthos was a great experience, as well as being in goal against different shooters. “They’ve been goalies at a high level for a long time, so learning things from them has been fantastic. From a keeper perspective, the shooters are so, so good. We’ve got a lot of Olympians in the squad, so it was amazing to get that experience, to get them shooting at me. There are things that I need to work on and that I can improve at QAS and Queensland training.”

Both players have noticed the step up in intensity in training and how quickly the young squad has come together. “Everyone has just helped each other fit into the squad, especially Hugh and myself, being invitees to the camp. The boys have just taken us on like we are squad players and treated us really well.” said Nic. That winning mentality has developed during training and for Hugh “It’s a huge step up, everyone here is serious and wants to win. It’s a good culture to be amongst, where every training, everyone is giving 100%.”

The World League was a great first international test for the Sharks and winning Gold in front of a home crowd was the icing on the cake for the team.  Watching from the stands, for Hugh and Nic, the result is a huge confidence boost for the team. “To win against all these teams gives us confidence as we are such a young team, we’re playing well and playing good tactics. For us, we know when we get to that level, when we train hard and get into this team, we know we are joining a winning team. We know that after all that has changed, the boys can still come through, play the game plan and get the win.”

It was a young squad that took to the pool on the Gold Coast and like Hugh, Nic believes the win gives the team confidence moving forward. “For us, it’s exactly what Hugh said, it gives us a real incentive to work hard and get into a team that’s winning, that’s playing well, is full of confidence and most importantly young. If Hugh and I can break into that main squad, then you know most of these boys will be hanging around for the next 10 years, so hopefully, we can be a part of that.”

We wish both Hugh and Nic all the best in their water polo careers, no doubt we will see them in the Green and Gold in the not too distant future.