Four new caps in SA men’s hockey team
The South Africa men’s hockey team to take part in the Champions Challenge tournament from November 24 until December 2 in Quilmes, just outside Buenos Aires in Argentina, was named on Thursday.
Head coach Gregg Clark’s side has five players each from Southern Gauteng and Northern Blues, three apiece from Western Province (including captain Austin Smith) and the KZN Coastal Raiders, and one each from KZN Inland and North West.
Four players in the victorious SA U21 team that won the Junior World Cup Africa Qualifier Tournament last month -- Matthew Guise-Brown and Grant Glutz of Northern Blues, Robin Jones of KZN Inland and Ignatius Malgraff of North West -- are the new caps in the team
“Matthew has specialist skills, which are handy at top level,” said Clark. “It’s an opportunity for him to step up to the plate at penalty corners, while as a defender he has effective aerial skills and is a strong, tough guy, a requirement for defending at top level.”
Clark said striker Grant Glutz had impressed for an SA invitation team that played Germany during the 2012 Olympic Games champs’ training camp at University of the Free State earlier this year, where “he scored a great backhand goal”.
“Grant has an instinctive ability to score goals, which is difficult to coach, and has established a good record at junior level,” said the SA coach. “He deserves a chance to translate that skill at a higher level.”
Defender Robin Jones captained the SA U21 side and impressed with his leadership skills. “Robin was highly regarded by the coaching staff and it will be interesting to see what he can do another step up,” said Clark, at 250 test matches the most capped SA men’s player of all time.
Malgraff is an exciting talent, said Clark. “Ignatius has lots of pace up front and Champs Challenge gives us an opportunity to have a really good look at him after lots of recommendations.”
Clark said those who did duty at the Olympics in London three months ago and were not selected for Argentina are still in the picture, while some were not available for various reasons. “We also want to look at new players as we enter a new Olympic cycle.”
Clark said the tournament format would help ease SA into the event. “We are guaranteed a place in the quarterfinals, so the three pool games can be used in that respect.”
The SA men face Japan on November 24, Argentina on November 25 and Ireland on November 27 before the quarterfinals on November 29, which are followed by the semifinals and crosspool playoffs on December 1. The medal and classification matches are on December 2.
The team leave on Sunday, November 18.
Austin Smith (capt), Lloyd Norris-Jones, Jacques le Roux (all Western Province); Michael Smith, Ricky West, Clinton Panther, Owen Mvimbi, Miguel da Graca (all Southern Gauteng); Rhett Halkett, Matthew Guise-Brown, Jonty Robinson, Nicholas Gonsalves, Grant Glutz (all Northern Blues); Lloyd Madsen, Tim Drummond, Taine Paton (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Robin Jones (KZN Inland); Ignatius Malgraff (North West).