New faces in first England hockey squad since Rio triumph

New faces in first England hockey squad since Rio triumph

10 February 2017 / 18:47

There is no room for sentiment in England Hockey head coach Danny Kerry’s first squad since Team GB won Olympic gold in Rio, as just five players from that triumph make the cut for a trip to South Africa.

The coach has named a 22-strong squad, with nine women coming from league leaders Surbiton, who are currently on a 50-game unbeaten run in outdoor domestic hockey.

Giselle Ansley and Hollie Webb are among the star names to make the cut, with Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley and Laura Unsworth the other gold medallists to feature in the squad.

Travelling reserves Joie Leigh and Ellie Watton are also in the 22, with the remainder of the squad being made up of those who missed out on Rio 2016, and new recruits to the central training programme this season.

Kerry's choice of Olympic winners was limited due to Maddie Hinch's club commitments in the Netherlands, while Sam Quek is taking a break from hockey and the Richardson-Walshs, Kate and Helen, have now retired from international hockey.

The South Africa trip will see England face the home nation twice in test matches, on February 25 and 26, as well as playing three training games against Germany on March 1, 3 and 4.

With as many as 11 players in line for their England debuts, Kerry is eager to begin preparations for the 2018 World Cup, in London, the medium-term goal for his side.

“The programme is moving fast since its restart on January 9,” said Kerry. “We have laid some good early foundations in other parts of the programme and we now start the very first steps in building and experimenting with how we are going to play.

“The matches will see us put out brand new combinations and explore new ways of playing based around the strengths of the new squad.

"Our rate of development, both as individuals and as a squad will continue to accelerate as we progress toward our summer tournaments and in the medium term towards London 2018.

"I’m expecting that both Germany and South Africa will potentially have more settled squads than us but the prospect of pitting our talents against that excites us.

“At the same time as we build our teamwork we will seek to do the same as a staff, putting in place good foundations for growth as a staff team to best support our playing team.”

Sportsbeat 2017

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