The 18-strong squad to represent the South Africa men’s hockey side during the World League Round 2 (WLR2) tournament that takes place at Hartleyvale in Cape Town from Saturday to next Sunday has been named.
Head coach Fabian Gregory said that choosing the 18 presented a tough task for the selection panel.
‘We have just finished a very long training camp in Cape Town [from 19 February] and indicated to the group from the outset that selection [for WLR2] would be based on form,’ said Gregory.
‘Everyone put their hands up and performed, so choosing the final 18 was really difficult, but the selection panel is confident that we have the players and combinations to do well at this World League tournament.’
Several players selected for WLR2 were unable to attend camp due to playing commitments overseas.
Gregory said the players not chosen have every reason to believe that they can break back into the team in the future.
The coach said that a top three finish in Cape Town would qualify South Africa for one of the two World League Semi-Final tournaments due to take place later this year.
SA are in Pool A in Cape Town alongside Egypt, China and Switzerland, while Pool B comprises France, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Czech Republic.
The SA team to be captained by Austin Smith meet China this Saturday at 4.15pm followed by Egypt at the same time on Sunday. SA tackle Switzerland at 6.30pm next Tuesday before next Thursday’s quarter-finals, next Saturday’s elimination matches and next Sunday’s classification matches.
‘The mood within the 18-player group and management staff is very positive and we are going all-out to win this event in front of our fans,’ Gregory added.
Goalkeepers: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders)
Defenders: Daniel Bell, Rhett Halkett, Austin Smith (capt), Dylan Swanepoel (all Western Province), Matt Guise-Brown (Northern Blues), Robin Jones (Eastern Province)
Midfielders: Dan Sibbald, Tim Drummond (both KZN Coastal Raiders), Clint Panther (pictured), Jethro Eustice (both Southern Gauteng)
Strikers: Natius Malgraff (Eastern Province), Keenan Horne, Shannon Boucher, Pierre de Voux (all Western Province), Taine Paton (KZN Coastal Raiders), Julian Hykes (Southern Gauteng)