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Hockey boys head off

South Africa men’s hockey team head coach Gregg Clark is looking for specific outcomes as the team embarks on an 18-day tour to Ireland and Spain on Monday ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games, which are just a month away, writes Jon Cook.

ÔÇ£The emphasis of the tour is to get back to playing at the top level again, having had a seven-week break since the Olympic qualifier in Japan,ÔÇØ Clark said on Saturday.

ÔÇ£We want to come away from the tour feeling confident with our general level of play, whilst having put a great deal of detail on a few specific aspects we will identify.ÔÇØ

SA Hockey Association CEO Marissa Langeni said Friday that the programme leading up to the Olympics┬áhas been funded by the country’s Olympic governing body SASCOC. Langeni said one of the world’s top umpires, Pretoria-based John Wright, will be travelling with the team as part of his London 2012 preparations.

The team have undergone a gruelling physical training programme in the last month, which started on May 26 at a camp run by ex-Springbok conditioning coach Dr Derick Coetzee at University of the Free State.

Captain Austin Smith and the world’s 12th ranked team will be playing against world number 16 Ireland, world No27 Wales and world No22 Scotland in the Celtic Cup in Northern Ireland from June 28 to July 1; then Ireland and world No11 Belgium in Dublin on July 3 and 4; and finally world No10 India (twice) and the world’s fifth-ranked Spain in Santander, Spain from July 8 to 11.

Apart from the Olympic 16, the Olympic reserves, midfielder/defender Clint Panther and goalkeeper Jacques le Roux, make up the 18-man tour squad.

SA TEAM

Austin Smith (capt), Andrew Cronje, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Ian Haley, Jacques le Roux (all Western Province); Tim Drummond, Marvin Harper, Lloyd Madsen, Taine Paton, Wade Paton (all KZN Coastal Raiders); Lance Louw, Thornton McDade, Rassie Pieterse, Clint Panther (all Southern Gauteng); Justin Reid-Ross, Rhett Halkett, Jonty Robinson (all Northern Blues); Julian Hykes (North West).
SA TOUR FIXTURES (SA time).

Celtic Cup (Lisburn, Northern Ireland): v Ireland (7pm June 28); v Wales (1pm June 30); v Scotland (11am July 1).

Dublin, Ireland: v Belgium (6.15pm July 3); v Ireland (6.15pm July 4).

Santander, Spain (times tbc): v India (July 8); v Spain (July 9); v India (July 11).


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