Security scare ... Anna Flanagan. Photo: Getty Images
Security is tight for the Hockeyroos after they received a rock star welcome in Argentina for the elite World League finals starting this weekend - perhaps too tight.
He can laugh about it now, but Australia women's hockey coach Adam Commens has revealed star defender Anna Flanagan almost missed a vital warm-up game after being locked in the dressing room by a security guard hoping to keep their fans at bay.
''Anna ducked off to the loo before the match and one of the security guards decided they would lock the change rooms to keep our gear safe and she was locked in,'' Commens said of Canberra product Flanagan, recently named world young player of the year.
''She was frantically sending text messages to staff and making phone calls.
''Eventually someone heard her and she missed about 10 minutes of the warm-up. She came out a bit flustered but she played very well.''
It is typical of the reception the Hockeyroos have received since arriving in hockey-mad Argentina for the tournament boasting the world's top eight teams.
While largely unknown at home, the Hockeyroos cannot walk down the street in the tournament's host city of San Miguel de Tucuman in northern Argentina without being swarmed by fans.
''It's quite amazing to be honest. We have police escorts to the ground, we have police outside our hotel to stop fans coming in,'' Commens said.
''Even tonight the waiter at our restaurant said what an honour and privilege it was to serve us. It's a different situation in Australia so this is something they are enjoying - they are hockey mad here.''
The world No.5 Hockeyroos have done their best to live up to the hype in the lead-up to their sellout tournament opener against reigning world champion Argentina on Sunday (AEDT).
They downed Argentina in October's International Super Series final, ousted world No.4 New Zealand in the recent Oceania Cup decider and won all three World League finals warm-up clashes - including a 2-1 result against all-conquering Argentina.
A top four finish could catapult them to No.3 in the rankings, a huge advantage when next year's World Cup seedings are finalised.
But that will be easier said than done for Australia, which is pooled with heavyweights Argentina, China and New Zealand.
Every team qualifies for the quarter-finals.
But no matter what their pool seeding, a quarter-final loss will end their tournament.
Still, Commens is hopeful his side will start emulating the three-time Olympic champion Hockeyroos of old sooner rather than later.
''We strive every day to try and live up to that,'' he said.
''It may have diminished over the last 10 years but this group is really determined to bring back the aura that goes with the Hockeyroos name.'' AAP