Five College old boys inSA World Cup hockey team

2010-01-22 00:00

THE South African hockey team named late yesterday for next month’s Hero Honda FIH Hockey World Cup in New Delhi, has a remarkable five Maritzburg College old boys in the 18-man squad, while the assistant coach is an Old Hiltonian, reports JONATHAN COOK.

South Africa, ranked 13 in the world, play the opening match against world three Spain on February 28. Gareth Carr (Class of 1999), Tommy Hammond (2002), Marvin Harper (2003) and the Paton brothers — Wade (2004) and Taine (2007) — plus Hilton College product Dave Viney will be ultra-keen to get their campaign off to a good start.

Captain Austin Smith said the World Cup will be the “biggest test for our new squad so far”.

As to which team SA fears the most, Smith said, “We do not fear any team. We will go into every match with a healthy respect for each team.”

Head coach Gregg Clark was enthused by last week’s training camp at the University of Free State.

“It was great having Germany and Holland training in the same environment and it helped create a greater focus,” Clark said.

“It would have been great to get an extra match or two against the tourists, but with their travel schedules and training requirements, it wasn’t something they were able to oblige us with,” said Clark.

Just 24 hours after assembling in Bloemfontein, SA played Germany.

“We lost 7-3, and it was perhaps indicative of the fact that we were still in holiday/beach mode a bit — refocusing players to train this early in the year is always tough, let alone to compete against the world’s best,” Clark said.

“Having said that — and without looking for excuses — we leaked a few soft goals and had seven players in the 18-man line-up [11 on the field and seven rolling substitutes] that hadn’t played an international match in eight to 10 months. It’s pretty tough playing your first international game, or first in 10 months, against the world’s top-ranked team.”

The final unofficial Test against Holland (world four), saw SA dominate, Clark said.

“Our combination was settled and it showed in the way we competed in the first half, going into the break 2-1 up. I thought we could have at least got a draw, but we just couldn’t finish off the job, losing out to a couple of late penalty corners to lose 4-2.”

While finishing off remains the team’s biggest weakness, Clark said SA are now better able to break down opposition defences and create effective circle entries.

SA will assemble in Pretoria for a few days before leaving for India on February 21.

The SA Hockey Association were granted the requisite World Cup finances from the National Lottery, said SAHA’s Marissa Langeni.

SA WORLD CUP HOCKEY TEAM

Austin Smith (capt), Paul Blake, Ian Haley, Rassie Pieterse (all Western Province), Gareth Carr, Marvin Harper, Shanyl Balwanth, Lloyd Madsen, Wade Paton, Taine Paton (all KZN Coastal), Brendon Botes (Eastern Province), Rhett Halkett, Jonty Robinson (both Northerns), Tommy Hammond (KZN Inland), Julian Hykes (Border), Thornton McDade, Lloyd Norris-Jones (both Southern Gauteng), Justin Reid-Ross (North West). Gregg Clark (head coach), Dave Viney (assistant coach), Anton van Rooyen (manager), Mo Malebye (video/stats), Pierre Kruger (physio).

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