Under-21 tournaments: KZN Inland hockey teams are likely to be in for a rough ride

2011-04-29 00:00

THE South Africa Under-21 Interprovincial Hockey Tournaments (IPT) for men and women take place from Sunday to next Saturday in Durban and Cape Town respectively.

Durban’s KZN Coastal squads will be looking to come away with medals from at least one of the IPTs, but for the Pietermaritzburg-based KZN Inland teams it won’t be easy.

Compared to hockey’s heavyweight provinces who are usually in the medals, Inland has among the lowest numbers of players to choose from and at U21 level it has been a battle of late to field competitive sides.

It is a far cry from the golden years — for the U21 men at least — when Inland boasted a power-packed side that included as many as five SA Junior World Cup representatives. Five or six years ago the Inland men won the SA U21 interprovincial title, but as recently as last year in Potchefstroom it was a different story, a side sorely lacking in depth barely surviving against the big guns.

This year might be a bit better, though, as the side named for Durban has a core of experienced players in senior Inland representatives in goalkeepers Rohn Barron and Andrew Watson, defender Robin Jones, and fellow back four exponents Matthew Redmead and Travis Hardnick.

The big question, though, is whether highly promising yet inexperienced new coach Jethro Eustice — himself barely out of the U21 ranks but a senior provincial player nevertheless — can gel the lesser names around his three or four senior campaigners to the degree where this Inland squad can contend for a middle-ranking final placing at least.

The inexperienced Inland U21 women in Cape Town have a major battle on their hands to be competitive. For the likes of the promising Roslyn Flint and Kirsty Camons it will be their first taste of hockey at this level, but in goalkeeper Megan Woodburn, Ilse Gordon, Dionne van Heerden and Nadia Stella they do have players with senior IPT experience to draw from.

Coach Devon van der Merwe, though, does have the fresh insight gained from his time spent with SA senior head coach Giles Bonnet in his favour and is himself a player with a wealth of provincial playing experience.

It’s likely going to be a rough ride for both Inland sides, but the knowledge they bring out of their respective tournaments will be invaluable as their hockey careers go forward.

KZN INLAND TEAMS

U21 Women: Megan Woodburn, Kirsten Camons, Zamambo Mkhize, Confidence Mashau, Ashton Botes, Roslyn Flint, Shannon Watkins, Sarah Holland, Lana Kruger, Carmen Grobler, Kim Savings, Samantha Scott, Ilse Gordon, Dionne van Heerden, Nadia Stella, Vanda Papenfus. Coach: Devon van der Merwe. Manager: Wendy Manuel.

U21 Men: Rohn Barron, Matthew Redmead, Zipho Mhlongo, Robin Jones, James du Plessis, Michael Esteves, MX Ngcobo, Cameron Redmead, Sinalo Sidinana, Ndumiso Mncwango, Njabulo Zondi, Solomzi Daniel, Sean Donaldson, Matthew Pace, Mzamo Cele, Travis Hardnick, Andrew Watson. Coach: Jethro Eustice. Managers: Ian Griffiths, Mario Campbell.

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