KZN Inland looking to medal at hockey interprovincial

2011-08-12 00:00

KZN Inland will be looking to win a medal at the SA Men’s Interprovincial Tournament (IPT) in Randburg, which runs from August 15 to 21.

Quality Inland coach Charlie Pereira, the former Southern Gauteng and SA player, was without peer in his playing days and his link-up with Inland has been a good one since moving from Gauteng a few years ago.

Inland might be facing a tougher challenge this year without Tommy Hammond, the 2009 Beijing Olympics midfielder.

Hammond has relocated to Johannesburg and talk at Southern Gauteng is that his experience could prove the difference to the twice losing finalists in the last three years.

Yet in Darryn Gallagher, Inland have in the Beijing Olympian the most experienced top-level player at IPT.

Gallagher (34) would like nothing more than to wrap up his auspicious career with an IPT title.

Big PMB Collegians striker Gavin Jelley — who has the elusive X-Factor that can turn a game on its head — is underrated and his bustling style looks awkward at times, but it is that very unorthodoxy that makes him a handful for defenders.

That aside, there is ample talent in the likes of 18-year-old SA U19 player Lloyd de Kock and Damien Kimfley (19), as well as underrated PMB Varsity team-mate Matt Redmead (20).

Then there is young yet experienced goalkeeper Rohn Barron, who at 21 has already played in two IPTs.

Others with experience that belies their age are defenders Robin Jones (20) and Travis Hardnick (19), while it is a massive opportunity to mix it with the best for rookies Sinalo Sidinana (21) and 18-year-old James du Plessis.

Number two keeper Ian Griffiths provides solid back-up while Inland have seasoned young players in defenders Karl Oftebro, Jethro Eustice, Justin Domleo, Matt Coombes and Devon van der Merwe, who have a number of IPTs under their belts.

There is always the good fortune factor in winning an IPT, a cut-throat competition where every pool game is effectively a final and one error can cost a semi-final berth — and Inland have had their fare share at critical moments.

However, luck can change and the playing fields are already being leveled as star national players drop out due to injuries suffered during the EagleTurf All Star Series in Gauteng last week.

Twice-defending champions KZN Coastal Raiders have lost drag-flick king Gareth Carr (broken toe) and captain and central midfielder Wade Paton (hamstring), while Northern Blues penalty corner ace Justin Reid-Ross (groin) and Western Province striker Craig Haley (broken hand) are also staying at home.

Inland are in Pool A with the Raiders, Southerns and the promoted Witwatersrand, while Pool B comprises Northerns, WP, Eastern Province and WP Peninsula.

In the B Section, the untried, inexperienced Inland B side, under legendary coach Brian Edwards, will be looking to learn a lot against tough opposition that includes relegated Border.

TEAMS

KZN Inland: Rohn Barron, Ian Griffiths, Travis Hardnick, Karl Oftebro, Jethro Eustice, Justin Domleo, Lloyd de Kock, Robin Jones, Darryn Gallagher, Matt Coombes, Devon van der Merwe, Gavin Jelley, James du Plessis, Matt Redmead, Damian Kimfley, Sidinana Sinalo. Coach: Charlie Pereira. Manager: Mark Kendall-Ball.

KZN Inland B: Joel Barron, Devon Wendover, Richard Randelhof, Keenan du Toit, Murray Turner, Michael Craig, Guy Elliot, Grant Christie, Kieran Nero, Mario Campbell, Gift Buys, Michael van Rensburg, Richard Snowden, Fergus Snow, Ndumiso Mncwango. Non-travelling: Edric Pascoe. Coach: Brian Edwards. Manager: Harry Suckert.

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