Australian fans ready to welcome back Carroll
Canberra, Australia, June 13, 2014 - For four long, hard years Paul Carroll has waited to make his return to the Australian Volleyball team. This weekend in Finland it will happen.
It’s been four years since Paul Carroll last pulled on an Australian shirt to play volleyball for his country. Four long, hard and frustrating years, that included missing an Olympics because of shoulder problems.
In that time 28-year-old Carroll has also been busy making himself a household name in the powerful German Volleyball League, where he notched up an MVP in his first season and his Berlin team won three national titles.
A household name in Germany, the boy from Taree is barely recognisable in Australia.
This weekend the drought ends, with Carroll set to pull on the green and gold to play Finland in the fourth week of Intercontinental Round action in the World League. And hopefully, along with the rest of the Volleyroos, ha can continue the journey that will eventually earn them the respect and admiration of the Australian public.
Four years is a long time to be out of a team, and lots of things have changed in that time.
“The whole team is very different. There are a lot of young guys and a lot of the older guys I played with are not here anymore,” said Carroll.
Carroll, who stands at 207cm, will this weekend fill the position normally taken by 212 cm man-mountain, Tom Edgar, who is being rested. Edgar is revered throughout the volleyball world, and Carroll knows that, at least in the short term, he’ll be playing second fiddle.
“To be honest, if Tom is dominating, I’d be happy just to train and help the team in any way I can,” Carroll said from Finland this week.
“When I was coming back Tom sent me a nice message saying it was going to be awesome to be in the squad together.”
An added bonus for Carroll is that this weekend he’s feeling the best he’s felt for a long time.
“I had surgery in 2012, and I was deciding whether to come back or not,” he said. “I’d taken 2011 off because I’d had shoulder issues for about six years. I actually went to London to watch the Olympic Games. It would have been awesome to play, but in the end I was happy with my decision to get my shoulder fixed.”
Having said that, Carroll is determined not to miss another Olympics. “It really is a massive motivator for me,” he said. “It would be incredible, especially because in Brazil volleyball is such a major sport. The atmosphere there is going to be amazing.”
That’s 2016. Of more immediate concern to Carroll is this weekend’s double header against Finland.
Last weekend in Canberra, Australia and Finland shared the spoils, and this weekend on home soil the Finns will welcome back several experienced players.
“The whole team will have a challenge, because Finland have three more senior players back on the team,” Carroll said.
“Jon (coach Uriarte) wants to build on what we did last weekend, just build generally, and learn from every game. I think if we just make some small improvements some of these matches we are losing we could easily win.
“We are very young and very talented, whereas the team I play with in Berlin is much more experienced, much older. Here I’m one of the oldest players, but in Berlin I’m still one of the youngest.”
Australia takes on Finland in Tampere at 16:00 local time on Saturday and Sunday, and then head to Canada for the next round next weekend.