THE Australian team returned down under last week with egos a little battered but not broken after they finished last at the World Handball Championships in Spain.
The semi-professional Australian team entered the championships as rank outsiders and failed to register a point alongside powerhouse nations such as Spain and Croatia in group D.
Australia coach Taip Ramadani knew the World Championships would be tough and likened the challenge to a "Danish Australian football team playing Carlton in the AFL".
"The main difference [between Australia and European teams] is that we're playing against fully fledged professional players," Ramadani said.
One of the semi-professional domestic-based players to make the step up to the national team was Hills handballer Tim Anderson.
Anderson, a right-sided fullback, was drafted into the national squad as an injury replacement for Australia captain Bevan Calvert.
"This was my debut tournament and it was an opportunity for me to play handball at the highest possible level," Anderson said.
"Although the results were not favourable we gained a lot from the experience."
The tournament started brightly for Australia with a credible 36-13 loss to Croatia on the opening day.
Luck ran out for Australia in rounds two and three, however, with heavy defeats to Hungary (13-43) and Spain (11-51).
Australia rounded out the group stage with further defeats to Algeria (15-39) and Egypt (14-39).