All at Hartleyvale in Cape Town, the SA squad will play two international matches against Dutch Premier Division club Rotterdam on February 21 and 22, as well as Test matches against world number two Germany and France, on the proposed dates of February 27 and 28, and March 1 and 2.
Apart from SA, the World League Round 2 tournament at Hartleyvale from March 7 to 15 includes China, Egypt, France, Czech Republic, Belarus, Switzerland and Azerbaijan. The goal at WLR2 is to qualify for the World League Semi-Finals event later in the year.SA head coach Fabian Gregory says the policy that he and fellow selectors, Allistar Fredericks (convenor) and Bruce Jacobs adopted has always been about rewarding the players who have shown form.
“It is exciting to see the crop of players coming through who are putting their hands up for consideration. It has created healthy competition within the group,” says Gregory. “As the selection panel, our approach is to reward those players who are performing; reputation counts for nothing.”
Fredericks cites the two camps and Test matches, in Durban in early January, and Cape Town towards the end of last month, as having been ideal for the panel, as it afforded them the opportunity to look at a generous cross-section of players.
“The camp work ethic has been heartening to see, while the Test matches in Durban [against Austria] and Cape Town [versus Holland and Ireland] gave the boys the chance to show what they could do against quality opponents,” says Fredericks.
Experienced striker Julian Hykes, who was unavailable in January due to outside commitments, returns to the squad. Joining the squad towards the end of February are a number of South Africa’s experienced players, who were to a greater or lesser degree unavailable for the January period, in part due to club commitments abroad.
The 18 player-team for WLR2 will be named at the end of February.
SA MEN’S SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal
Raiders), Jacques le Roux (Western Province).
Defenders: Jethro Eustice (Southern Gauteng), Daniel Bell, Rhett
Halkett, Dylan Swanepoel (all WP), Matt Guise-Brown (Northern Blues), Robin
Jones, Mohammed Mea (both KZN Coastal Raiders).
Midfielders: Dan Sibbald, Ross Hetem (both KZN Coastal Raiders, Clint
Panther, Miguel da Graca (both Southern Gauteng), Marc Fourie (WP).
Forwards: Natius Malgraff (Eastern Province), Keenan Horne, Shannon
Boucher, Pierre de Voux (all WP), Brandon Panther, Julian Hykes (both Southern
* To join the squad towards the end of February – Goalkeeper: Rassie
Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Defenders: Austin Smith (WP), Jonty Robinson
(Northern Blues), Midfielder: Tim Drummond (KZN Coastal Raiders), Forward:
Taine Paton (KZN Coastal Raiders).
Clint goal … (from
left) Julian Hykes, Clint Panther (both Southern Gauteng), Taine Paton (KZN
Coastal Raiders). Photo: STANISLAS BROCHIER
Rhett … SA defender
Rhett Halkett of Western Province. Photo: ADY KERRY