Wizards of Oz fitness regime impresses SA striker

2010-08-13 00:00

SOUTH African goal-scorer Lloyd Norris-Jones’s experiences in Australia and what happens in SA highlight the differences between styles of hockey.

Norris-Jones, arguably the top striker in South Africa, has spent months playing hockey in Perth, the hotbed of the game in the world champion country Down Under, and he told The Witness yesterday that the Australian club league hockey experience has been an eye-opener.

Obviously the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) hockey centre in Perth does lend a somewhat skewed emphasis when compared to the top provinces in SA, who don’t have such a facility, but put that aside and let the facts sink in.

“About 25 players are drafted from all around Australia, and each goes to a club, fairly distributing the players to each side,” Norris-Jones said.

He said the Australians pride themselves on fast-paced, high-intensity, high-pressing, relentless hockey, bullying opponents into submission through supreme fitness and being able to outrun any team they meet.

“Our fitness regime consisted of boxing sessions, pilates, two one-hour fitness sessions, two one-hour turf sessions, one specialised turf session, with usually an Australian assistant coach who worked on our finer defensive details, and then four to five gym sessions per week. Yes, I said it, per week.”

Norris-Jones said seven club sides are competing for the top league spot with anybody in the league able to take points off you.

This is certainly food for thought both in PMB and the provinces.

The son of former PMB Collegians and Natal goalkeeper Trevor Norris-Jones has clearly learnt a lot — and that should sound an ominous warning for KZN Inland, who came so close last year to a crack at the Men’s Inter Provincial title at the A.B. Jackson Greenfields Turf in Pietermaritzburg.

They are again looking for a minimum top four berth in Port Elizabeth where the country’s premier provincial crown plays out from August 24 to 28.

Norris-Jones has signed with defending champions KZN Coastal Raiders and they will be a threat to every pretender to the province’s throne.

In KZN Men’s Super League, player/coach Darryn Gallagher’s PMB Varsity squad are a step away from winning the title.

Varsity lead their Durban counterparts by nine points and have a massive goal difference advantage of 38 over the Howard College campus, although the Durban lads have two games in hand.

However, PMB have relatively easy run-ins against PMB Collegians (7.30 pm tonight at ABJ) and Riverside II before the league breaks for the IPT, after which they return for the final clash against Pinetown on September 4.

Lying in third place, but 10 points off the pace from the same number of games are Pinetown, while the fancied Riverside line-up from Durban North are a massive 13 points adrift of the leaders, albeit with two games in hand.

Fifth-placed Rovers are just three points ahead of the improved PMB Collegians side, although the men from the KZN capital have two games in hand.

The KZN Women’s Super League is a three-horse race between Riverside I and Rovers I (both on 24 points after nine matches) and Durban Collegians (22 from nine).

The improving PMB Varsity lie fourth, but eight points away from third-placed Durban Collegians.

The PMB Collegians line-up are in fifth spot and have a game in hand over their local campus rivals and could yet make up the four-point gap.

Durban Varsity lie sixth and also have a game in hand.

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