The South African men’s hockey team has been named to meet reigning Olympic champions Germany in a three-Test series in Cape Town on February 26, 27 and 29. Head coach Fabian Gregory says the SA team was a mixture of youth and experience. The coach says it was also a reward for the SA Under-21 Junior World Cup players who did well for the SA senior team during the recent Test matches in Cape Town: ‘It’s an opportunity to test themselves against Olympic champions Germany, who will be much more challenging than the teams we played last month.’
Gregory says South Africa’s focus would be on the players as individuals and as part of a team: ‘No Rio Olympics this year has given us an opportunity to rebuild and see which senior players are able to improve their own level and become better players than what they currently are. Only improved and consistent performances will earn places in the squad going forward. We have quite a few new senior faces in the squad for the Germany series, which was the plan all along – to give as many players as possible an opportunity to show that they still have a role to play in the senior team going forward.’
Gregory says he was excited to have the SA juniors who performed well last month back in the senior squad: ‘It gives them another chance to develop and compete at the highest level prior to the Junior World Cup Qualifier.’ The SA U-21 team is set to take part in the Junior World Cup Africa Qualifier tournament in Windhoek, Namibia from March 18 to 28. Gregory says players from last month’s squad not available for the Germany series were Jonty Robinson, Robin Jones, Owen Mvimbi and Taine Paton.
The coach says that other national squad members not available to face the Germans were Austin Smith, Clinton Panther, Brandon Panther, Matt Guise-Brown and Julian Hykes: ‘New face Stephen Cant [Northern Blues] gets an opportunity after a string of really impressive and consistent performances in 2015.’
Goalkeepers: Gowan Jones (KZN Raiders), Rassie Pieterse Southern Gauteng)
Defenders: Dylan Swanepoel, Daniel Bell, Rhett Halkett (Western Province), Tyson Dlungwana (SA U-21), Mohamed Mea (KZN Raiders), Gareth Heyns (Southern Gauteng)| Midfielders: Dan Sibbald, Tim Drummond (KZN Raiders), Charlie Bowren, Ryan Julius (SA U-21), Reza Rosenberg, Miguel Da Graca (Southern Gauteng), Wade Paton (Western Province)
Forwards: Pierre De Voux, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Keenan Horne (Western Province) Bili Ntuli, Tevin Kok, Ryan Crowe (SA U-21), Ross Hetem (KZN Raiders), Stephen Cant (Northern Blues)