Johannesburg – The South African men's hockey team to take part in the Champions Challenge in Quilmes, near Buenos Aires in Argentina, was named on Thursday with four new caps.
Head coach Gregg Clark's side includes five players each from Southern Gauteng and Northern Blues, three each from Western Province and the KZN Coastal Raiders, and one from KZN Inland and North West each.
Four players from the victorious SA U21 team, which won the Junoir World Cup Africa qualifier tournament in October, Matthew Guise-Brown, Grant Glutz, Robin Jones and Ignatius Malgraff, were the new caps.
Austin Smith from Western Province would captain the side.
“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 champions’ training camp at the University of the Free State earlier this year.
“Grant has an instinctive ability to score goals, which is difficult to coach, and has established a good record at junior level,” said Clark.
“He deserves a chance to translate that skill at a higher level.”
Defender 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, who with 250 Test matches is the most capped SA men’s player of all time.
Clark said Malgraff was an exciting talent.
“Ignatius has lots of pace up front and 1/8the 3/8 Champs Challenge gives us an opportunity to have a really good look at him after lots of recommendations.”
The coach said those who did duty at the Olympics in London three months ago and were not selected for Argentina were still in the picture.
Other players were not available for various reasons.
“We also want to look at new players as we enter a new Olympic cycle,” said Clark.
He believed the tournament format would help ease SA into the event.
“We are guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals, so the three pool games can be used in that respect,” Clark said.
South Africa face Japan in their opening fixture on November 24.
SA squad: 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). – Sapa