Felicity Reidy [right] is Dalefield’s only woman to make the Central Falcons. PHOTO/FILE

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Five Dalefield players have been picked for the Central Falcons squads for the new national premier leagues, giving them the chance to catch the national selectors’ eyes.

The club’s player-coach and Black Stick Dane Lett is joined by brother Trent, Benedict van Woerkom, and Jordan Cohen in the men’s team.

Ex-Black Stick Felicity Reidy is the club’s only women’s representative. Former Wairarapa College student and Black Stick Megan Hull, now based in Auckland, is also in the side.

The Premier League is a new concept involving four teams and replaces the eight-team national leagues.

The Central Falcons area is a merger of the old Capital and Central regions and takes in Taranaki across to Hawke’s Bay, and south.

The teams play two full round-robins, plus finals over two four-day periods. The women’s competition started last week, and the men’s starts tonight.

Lett expected a high standard of hockey, with the best players concentrated in four teams.

“For the first time in a long time, since I’ve been involved, all the Black Sticks must be available, so that’s a really cool thing that all the best players in the country are going to be there,” he said.

Referring to Dalefield’s men’s and women’s title double in Wellington premier championship in September, the victories “We [Dalefield] are really fortunate to have a really strong showing.

“Probably from most clubs across the country there wouldn’t be many that have four players, definitely not in our region anyway.

“It’s a really good recognition of the successful year we’ve had.”

Lett said Trent Lett, van Woerkom, and Cohen all have the ability. They just needed to peak at the right time and play their best hockey in front of the right people and selection in one of the national squads could beckon.

“It’s been made clear that it’s a selection event. After both weekends, they will finalise the national squad for next year for the Olympics, and they will name the development squad and performance network group, so there’s plenty for everybody to be playing for.”

“It’s as good as opportunity that they have had in the past four or five years to be fair.”

As for the Falcons’ prospects, Lett said it was hard to gauge, with the teams flying into Hamilton this afternoon and playing their first game a few hours later.

“You look at all the teams and they all look really strong and all have six or seven national squad members, so it will be who can get on the same page quickly.”

“We’ve got some real firepower upfront with Stephen Jenness and Nick Wilson, who are a couple of genuine world class strikers.

“Then we have the likes of myself, Shae McAleese, and Brad Reid at the back, but we’ve got a bit of a younger midfield, who are super talented and exciting.”

The women started their championship last weekend, with the Falcons beating the Southern Alpiners 4-1, but losing in shootouts to the Northern Tridents and Hauraki Mavericks.



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