Smith and SA connections shine at inaugural HIL | SASCOC - SASCOC

Smith and SA connections shine at inaugural HIL

The South African connection loomed large as the inaugural Hero Hockey India League (HIL) wound up at the weekend, writes Mark Etheridge.

Five South Africans were involved in the final between the Ranchi Rhinos and the Delhi Waveriders. And four of them were in the ranks of the triumphant Rhinos line-up

South African national coach Gregg Clark, goalkeeper Dave Staniforth and players Austin Smith and Justin Reid-Ross were part of the rampant red-vested home outfit. The other South African in the final was the Waveriders’ Lloyd Norris-Jones.

Players from around the globe were auctioned off late last year, much like the hugely popular IPL cricket competition.

In the final, the Rhinos went down 1-0 but it was Austin who got the Rhinos back on level terms in the 55th minute with a great left slip drag flick after a penalty corner.

Less than 10 minutes later Manpreet Singh sealed the match in the 63rd minute.

The winning franchise earned $US 500,000 to be allocated at the franchise owner’s discretion.

The final was shown in 83 countries around the world, taking the sport an even higher level of popularity.

Smith was the SA player who attracted the highest bid at the auction ÔÇô $46,000 and even after tax deductions etc, it’s the most money received by an SA hockey player to date.

Cape Town based Smith said on his Twitter feed after the match: “After 21 flights, 14 matches, 5 weeks, 2 bad illnesses, 2 goals & 1 gold medal it’s time to say goodbye to India. Until next year!”

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