Aust rowers eyeing gold and Tokyo berths

Australia will attempt to defend their men's coxless four world title in Austria next week.
Australia will attempt to defend their men's coxless four world title in Austria next week.

Australia's strong legacy in the men's four is set to continue at next week's rowing world championships in Austria with a strengthened crew eyeing gold.

As well as world titles the Australians are chasing Olympic and Paralympic qualification in 12 events; needing to finish in particular rankings in each event to book a spot at next year's Tokyo Games.

The Oarsome Foursome put the men's coxless four on the map back in 1992 and Australia has continued to challenge for No.1 status in the event, picking up silver behind England at the Rio Olympics.

Australia won the event at two World Cup regattas this year but have decided to move Alex Hill - arguably the world's best rower and part of the Olympic crew - into the boat to join Sydney University trio Jack Hargreaves, Nick Purnell and Jack O'Brien, with Tim Masters shifting into the eight.

South Australian Hill and Hargreaves were part of the four that won last year's world title in Bulgaria while Hill has won two World Cup races this year in the pair.

The eight features Rio medallists Karsten Forsterling, who won silver in the quad scull, and Josh Booth, who was in the four.

Bernard Savage, RA performance director, said there were some tough calls made in order to balance to quest for medals and Olympic qualification.

"We think the addition of Alex Hill gives us our strongest crew," Savage told AAP.

"We've got a very deep men's program so we're able to spread across all the events to ensure we're pushing for finals.

"We are confident that most of the crews are a chance for podium results and others will be able to qualify."

Rio sculling gold medallist Kim Brennan has retired but Savage said the women's team remained strong.

"We've had some really good results with the women's eight winning in Poznan and coming second in Rotterdam and we've got strong depth across the whole program," Savage said.

"Jess (Morrison) and Annabelle (McIntyre) have had some great World Cup results in the pair so there's some good signs we're going to see some strong performances."

The toughest events for Tokyo qualification are the men's and women's eight and the lightweight double scull, where only the top five finishers get an Olympic berth.

In para-rowing Erik Horrie will bid for his sixth consecutive single scull title while 2018 silver medallist Jed Altschwager returns in the PR3 men's pair alongside debutant William Smith.

In the PR2 women's single Scull, Kathryn Ross returns to the team after a three year hiatus.

Australian Associated Press