The men’s hockey squad for next month’s pre-World League Round 2 tournament training camp has been announced.
All at Hartleyvale in Cape Town, the SA squad will play two matches against Dutch Premier Division club Rotterdam on 21-22 February, as well as Test matches against world No2 Germany, and France, on the proposed dates of 27-28 February, and 1-2 March.
Apart from SA, the World League Round 2 tournament at Hartleyvale from 7-15 March includes China, Egypt, France, Czech Republic, Belarus, Switzerland and Azerbaijan.
The goal at WLR2 is to qualify for the World League Semi-Finals event later in the year.
SA head coach Fabian Gregory says the policy that he and fellow selectors Allistar Fredericks (convenor) and Bruce Jacobs adopted has always been about rewarding the players who have shown form.
‘It is exciting to see the crop of players coming through who are putting their hands up for consideration. It has created healthy competition within the group,’ says Gregory. ‘As the selection panel, our approach is to reward those players who are performing; reputation counts for nothing.’
Fredericks cites the two camps and Test matches, in Durban in early January, and Cape Town towards the end of last month, as having been ideal for the panel, as it afforded them the opportunity to look at a generous cross-section of players.
‘The camp work ethic has been heartening to see, while the Test matches in Durban [against Austria] and Cape Town [versus Holland and Ireland] gave the boys the chance to show what they could do against quality opponents,’ says Fredericks.
Experienced striker Julian Hykes, who was unavailable in January due to outside commitments, returns to the squad.
Joining the squad towards the end of February are a number of South Africa’s experienced players, who were to a greater or lesser degree unavailable for the January period, in part due to club commitments abroad.
The 18 player-team for WLR2 will be named at the end of February.
SA MEN’S SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders), Jacques le Roux (Western Province).
Defenders: Jethro Eustice (Southern Gauteng), Daniel Bell, Rhett Halkett, Dylan Swanepoel (all WP), Matt Guise-Brown (Northern Blues), Robin Jones, Mohammed Mea (both KZN Coastal Raiders).
Midfielders: Dan Sibbald, Ross Hetem (both KZN Coastal Raiders, Clint Panther, Miguel da Graca (both Southern Gauteng), Marc Fourie (WP).
Forwards: Natius Malgraff (Eastern Province), Keenan Horne, Shannon Boucher, Pierre de Voux (all WP), Brandon Panther, Julian Hykes (both Southern Gauteng).
* To join the squad towards the end of February – Goalkeeper: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Defenders: Austin Smith (WP), Jonty Robinson (Northern Blues), Midfielder: Tim Drummond (KZN Coastal Raiders), Forward: Taine Paton (KZN Coastal Raiders).
Picture of Julian Hykes, Clint Panther and Taine Paton by Stanislas Brochier