A new-look South African men’s hockey team has been named to face Austria and Germany in official Test matches in February and March and gives some some of the fringe players the chance to put their hands up.
The side shows a number of changes from the side that did duty in the 1-1 series draw against world number four Great Britain, with a host of players having to return to work, but it does give players in head coach Gregg Clark’s extended squad the opportunity to put their hands up. ÔÇ¿ÔÇ¿Clark has made it very clear that the national team is by no means a closed shop but it is significant that the likes of national captain Austin Smith is unavailable for both series, as are Lloyd Madsen, Justin Reid-Ross and 2011 SA Player of the Year Taine Paton, among others.
The consequence is that an untried and very inexperienced SA team will take the field against Austria in a two-Test series at Randburg Hockey Stadium on 25-26 February as well against world number two-ranked Germany, the reigning Olympic Games champions, in a three-Test series at University of the Free State Hockey Centre in Bloemfontein on 2, 4, 6 March.
The experience gained and the chance to impress Clark, as well as the goal of getting into the team to represent SA at the Olympic Qualifier Tournament in Japan in April/May, where captain Smith’s team have to win gold to gain entry to the London 2012 Olympics, should serve as enough incentive for this particular group to give a good account of themselves.
Rassie Pieterse, Ricky West, Owen Mvimbi, Thornton McDade and Lance Louw (all Southern Gauteng); Andrew Cronje, Clive Terwin, Grant Robertson, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Craig Haley (all Western Province); Peter Bailey (Eastern Province); Francois Pretorius (Northern Blues); Tim Drummond, Wade Paton, Marvin Harper, Gowan Jones (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Julian Hykes (Amathole-Border).