Break for skipper Smith | SASCOC - SASCOC

Break for skipper Smith

By Mark Etheridge

SA men’s hockey captain Austin Smith’s first half of the season with Dutch club Den Bosch has been cut slightly short due to the inclement European winter weather.

“Snow and ice has unfortunately taken the place of astro over much of the country and meant we were unable to play our final game before the winter break, and this has been postponed until 26 February next year.”

Many South Africans ply their trade in the  Dutch League, known as the Hoofdklasse. The highest ranked side featuring contracted South African players is Pinoke, who currently lie fifth in the table.

“This is the home of Justin Reid-Ross who is enjoying his first year in the Hoofdklasse and Lloyd Madsen who is playing at the club for his third season in succession. Justin has scored six goals which is a great start from him. I’m sure after some time away from hockey in the winter break he is going to continue his fine form. The team is coached by Giles Bonnet, the current SA women’s coach who will be returning to South Africa shortly to lead the team in a series against the current world champions Argentina.”

Eighth placed SCHC is where Lloyd Norris-Jones is based this year. “He has the difficult task of living and training without any South Africans to support him. He does fortunately have two Irishmen in his team so there is always a chance to speak to someone in his home language. SCHC have had some indifferent results, but from a team who were in the play-outs last year they have done extremely well.”

Smith has South African company at Den Bosch in the shape of Rhett Halkett. “We’re currently sitting in 10th position and have only managed two wins out of the first 11. But our draw to Bloemendaal (third in the leg) and Pinoke most recently has given me even more belief that our team can achieve more than what we are currently.

“Rhett and I have worked hard since we returned from the Commonwealth Games and as Rhett played over the July, August period he is looking forward to a well earned rest. I will be moving to England to play Indoor for Reading Hockey Club with my old team mates which I am looking forward to.”

The South Africans will all return to South Africa at the end of the May when they face the tough task of the 2012 Olympic qualifers.

“At this stage there is nothing confirmed on the South African hockey calendar as we have not yet received our funding and are unable to plan for more than a month in advance.”