Best chance yet

Hockey
Nanjing Night Net

FINALS are a minimum for the Griffith Hockey Association this weekend as the city’s strongest representative side in years prepares to head to Newcastle for the Open Men’s State Championships.

Captain-coach Andrew Sinclair believes Griffith’s chances have been significantly boosted with confirmation two key players – who both missed the rep side’s successful comeback to the NSW titles last year – are locked in for this weekend.

Jamie Piva and Ray McLean head the list of ins to the squad of 16, and Sinclair is confident those picked are more than capable of making it out of the group stages and into the finals on Monday morning.

“There are a handful of four or five coming in who, as a whole, will make a difference,” he said.

“We took a different approach this year. We started our campaign a lot earlier, we had a bigger squad to pick from and those guys who couldn’t make it last time are in.

“The side we’re taking this year is the one we wanted to take last time. The 16 guys that are going are the consistent performers locally, week-to-week.

“That’s what you want out of a rep side. Fortunately it’s our strongest one in a while.”

Griffith has been drawn with Parkes, Scone and Maitland in their pool, with the top two teams set to qualify for the business end of the tournament.

While Parkes are considered group favourites, Sinclair said the side is eyeing revenge against Scone after going down 4-3 in a close contest in Wollongong last year.

“We’ve got a much better chance against them this time,” he said.

“But all sides are a bit of an unknown commodity – you don’t know what young guys they’ve got coming through or where they’re at.

“They’re all reasonably strong hockey centres. Parkes have the advantage of coming from artificial turf as well so they’ll probably be the strongest side in the group.”

Indeed, it seems the surface will be Griffith’s biggest obstacle. The city’s local competition is played on grass at West End Oval, whereas this weekend’s tournament will be contested on a synthetic pitch.

Griffith has proven its ability to adapt to the change in the past but some extra training in the lead-up to the state titles should hold the side in good stead, Sinclair said.

“That’s what we’ve been working on – a lot of our drills at training have been about getting our passes accurate and quick and just using the whole space to make sure that percentage-wise, we make as few mistakes as possible,” he said.

“We’ve been doing a lot of training at the Griffith Indoor Sports Centre over the last few weeks trying to adjust, plus a couple of trial games we had in Wagga a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s two completely different styles. On the astroturf it’s a lot quicker. In terms of fitness and speed you have to accommodate that side of it.

“It’s a much shorter passing game with less tackling, and you use the full area of the park to move it around. You tend to move it from side-to-side a lot more.”

The representative outfit leaves on Friday for Newcastle. Griffith will face Parkes and Scone on Saturday and Maitland on Sunday before the finals begin on Monday morning.

SQUAD: Adam Hukins, Brendon Sinclair, Kym Wheeler, Jamie Piva, Mark McLean, Ray McLean, Andrew Sinclair, Sam Huxtable, Charles Anderson, Jarryd Day, Dave Haskins, Richard McDonald, Rheis Brill, Micheal Crosato, Kym Ramsey, Emerson Doig.

Griffith representative team captain-coach Andrew Sinclair (left).

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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