By Mark Etheridge
The national senior men’s water polo side have brought back silver from the 2017 EU Nations Cup in Poland.
Captained by veteran skipper Pierre le Roux, the SA side won four of their five games.
Although the team were unable to repeat their gold-medal feats at the Nations Cup two years ago, it was an invaluable part of the preparations for the FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest, Hungary, later this year.
As such, the team was chosen with a view to the future. Says Le Roux: ‘The tour was good – considering that we took three guys who have never played and a few guys who have not played in a while – we did well.
‘We only had six regulars out of the 13 in Poland and the rest were part of the development programme, so definitely a positive tour.’
And with less than a year to go before the next Commonwealth Games in Australia, the level of urgency has increased.
‘You can see that the Commonwealth teams are all working hard (Malta, England, Scotland, Ireland). They’ve all gone more professional in their approach and preparation – a big difference from last year.
‘The development of younger players was fantastic and SA men’s polo is looking good with the talent that is coming through.’
The South Africans opened their campaign with wins against Austria (13-4) and Scotland (10-8), before a hard-fought win against England (11-7).
They then went down 10-12 to Malta before winning their final game against Poland 16-6.
For now though the focus is on final trials for Hungary. ‘All the guys are focused on those trials in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal on 9-11 June. The final 13 for World Champs will be chosen there, so there’s a lot of hard work ahead.’