ABLE REPLACEMENT: Heat veteran John Daly, who has won A-grade divisions in Brisbane and titles on the Sunshine Coast will return from injury, for the clash with Caloundra on April 28.
ABLE REPLACEMENT: Heat veteran John Daly, who has won A-grade divisions in Brisbane and titles on the Sunshine Coast will return from injury, for the clash with Caloundra on April 28. LEEROY TODD

Unstoppable pro returns to battle for Heat just in time

Hockey: Cooloola Heat inside-right Nathan Stephens averages two goals a game, but his side will have the challenge of trying to dominate without him in the next round.

The undefeated Heat, sitting in top spot in the Sunshine Coast division one competition, will clash with Caloundra on Sunday, April 28.

"Nathan will be away next week and it is a case of the next man stepping up and it will have to be someone,” Heat coach and player Dom Stephens said of his brother.

"It is going to be a challenge, but we will have to get through.”

Hockey - Cooloola Heat vs Buderim - Jed Gaze and Dominic Stephens
Hockey - Cooloola Heat vs Buderim - Jed Gaze and Dominic Stephens Leeroy Todd

Playing in a top-of-the-table clash last weekend, the Heat beat Buderim 1-nil.

"To get on top of the table with that home game win was really good,” Dom said.

"The boys are really excited and it is all new for the group.”

Hockey - Cooloola Heat vs Buderim - Riley Bambling Heat
Hockey - Cooloola Heat vs Buderim - Riley Bambling Heat Leeroy Todd

Inside-right Stephens has been instrumental in the side's success.

"We had about four minutes left in the game and Nathan scored with a drag flick off the corner,” Dom said.

"Nathan was the main guy in attack. I was very relieved when he scored.

"Being up by one and how to play that out, it was good to see the guys play that perfectly.”

Teams that go undefeated can sometimes start to get complacent, but the coach has addressed this concern.

"It was a big thing we spoke about and we have to continue to do the 'one-percenters' and make sure everyone is doing their job,” he said.

Dom said there were a few players in contention for Nathan's position.

Hockey - Cooloola Heat vs Buderim - Heat defending a corner
Hockey - Cooloola Heat vs Buderim - Heat defending a corner Leeroy Todd

One of the leading candidates is John Daly, who is returning from injury.

"John has so much experience, a calm head and is one of our veteran players,” Dom said.

"He has won A-grade division in Brisbane, and Sunshine Coast titles, and is the most experienced player.

"He can do it all. He has played every position for us over the years and there is nothing he can't do.”