Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth admits his team has lost one of its most potent weapons after injury forced the premature retirement of star hockey striker Des Abbott.
Abbott, who scored 61 goals in 111 internationals for Australia, made the tough decision to retire from international ranks last week after failing to overcome a degenerative knee injury.
The 26-year-old will be remembered as one of Australia's most talented players, and Charlesworth says the 2008 Beijing Games bronze medal winner will be sorely missed.
"He was a player of the highest quality. He was a game-changer; a match-winner," Charlesworth said of Abbott, who is keen to play on in club ranks in Perth.
"The quickness of his hands and his ability to navigate himself through traffic was exceptional.
"Certainly our team is now diminished by losing someone of his quality."
Charlesworth said Darwin-born Abbott would have been able to establish himself as one of the game's greats had injuries not hampered him throughout his career.
Abbott's biggest heartbreak came last year, when he was left out of the London Games squad due to concerns over his worsening knee.
Meanwhile, Charlesworth says he's looking forward to the third instalment of the International Super Series Hockey 9s tournament in Perth, starting October 17.
The tournament, which has been labelled hockey's version of T20 cricket, features a range of rule changes, including larger goals, 20-minute halves, and just nine players per side instead of 11.
With hockey no guarantee to feature at Olympic level beyond 2020, Charlesworth believes the new format could revive the sport and safeguard its future.
"I think it could be the way the game ends up going," Charlesworth said.
"With less players on the field, it actually opens up the game, displays the skills better, and makes it more interesting.
"It rewards skill and enterprise. At the moment you can defend with less skill and still be effective. In this new format you will get exposed."
The world No.2 Kookaburras will take on Argentina, Pakistan and Malaysia at the Hockey 9s tournament, while the Hockeyroos will face off against world champions Argentina.