The South Africa men’s hockey team to take part in the Champions Challenge tournament from 24 November until 2 December in Quilmes, just outside Buenos Aires in Argentina, has been named.
Head coach Gregg Clark’s side has five players each from Southern Gauteng and Northern Blues, three apiece from Western Province (including captain Austin Smith) and the KZN Coastal Raiders, and one each from KZN Inland and North West.
Four players in the victorious SA Under-21 team that won the Junior World Cup Africa Qualifier Tournament last month ÔÇô Matthew Guise-Brown and Grant Glutz of Northern Blues, Robin Jones of KZN Inland and Ignatius Malgraff of North West ÔÇô are the new caps in the teamÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿.
ÔÇ£Matthew has specialist skills, which are handy at top level,ÔÇØ said Clark. ÔÇ£It’s an opportunity for him to step up to the plate at penalty corners, while as a defender he has effective aerial skills and is a strong, tough guy, a requirement for defending at top level.ÔÇØ
Clark said striker Grant Glutz had impressed for an SA invitation team that played Germany during the 2012 Olympic Games champs’ training camp at University of the Free State earlier this year, where ÔÇ£he scored a great backhand goalÔÇØ.ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿ÔÇ£Grant has an instinctive ability to score goals, which is difficult to coach, and has established a good record at junior level,ÔÇØ said the SA coach. ÔÇ£He deserves a chance to translate that skill at a higher level.ÔÇØ
Defender Robin Jones captained the SA Under-21 side and impressed with his leadership skills. ÔÇ£Robin was highly regarded by the coaching staff and it will be interesting to see what he can do another step up,ÔÇØ said Clark, at 250 Test matches the most capped SA men’s player of all time.
“Malgraff is an exciting talent,” said Clark. ÔÇ£Ignatius has lots of pace up front and Champs Challenge gives us an opportunity to have a really good look at him after lots of recommendations.ÔÇØ
Clark said those who did duty at the Olympics in London three months ago and were not selected for Argentina are still in the picture, while some were not available for various reasons. ÔÇ£We also want to look at new players as we enter a new Olympic cycle.ÔÇØ
Clark said the tournament format would help ease SA into the event. ÔÇ£We are guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals, so the three pool games can be used in that respect.ÔÇØ
The SA men face Japan on 24 November, Argentina the next day and Ireland on 27 November before the quarter-finals on 29 November, which are followed by the semi-finals and cross-pool play-offs on 1 December. The medal and classification matches are on 2 December.
The team leave on 18 November.
Austin Smith (capt), Lloyd Norris-Jones, Jacques le Roux (all Western Province); Michael Smith, Ricky West, Clinton Panther, Owen Mvimbi, Miguel da Graca (all Southern Gauteng); Rhett Halkett, Matthew Guise-Brown, Jonty Robinson, Nicholas Gonsalves, Grant Glutz (all Northern Blues); Lloyd Madsen, Tim Drummond, Taine Paton (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Robin Jones (KZN Inland); Ignatius Malgraff (North West).