Zac Hardie on the go for Dalefield. PHOTO/FILE
Farriers Dalefield will be without their new player-coach when they open their 2018 Wellington premier division men’s hockey campaign with a match against Victoria University at Clareville on Saturday.
Nobody is complaining though, as Dane Lett will have even more important matters on his mind — like helping the Black Sticks to a medal of some description at the ongoing Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, a very real possibility after their three wins in as many matches in pool play.
Indications are that Lett will be back on home territory for Dalefield’s second match, against Northern United at Clareville on April 21, and he will probably also assume the captaincy then, a role which the experienced Rowan Yeo will fill this weekend.
Yeo is one of many Dalefield players who are returning from last season when they were runners-up to Hutt for the premier division title after having won it in the previous two years.
Also back on deck will be Phil Arkell, Mitchell Blackwood, Zac Caldwell, the Finlayson brothers, Hamish and Nick, Zac Hardie, Jacob Harp, Cody Linton, Alexander Sumenko-Bucknell and goalkeeper John Forsyth.
Trent Lett, brother of Dane, will be available for the first two or three matches before heading overseas and while the absence of this talented defender will be felt, the blow has been softened by news than Daniel van Woerkom is soon to return from Holland to take his place.
Two former Wairarapa age group players who have been playing their hockey elsewhere in more recent times in Dylan Price and Henry Phelps have also joined the Dalefield fold.
With Indians not fielding a premier division side this season, Dalefield have gained the services of Capital Under-21 rep Jayan Parvhu.
Further, in line with club policy to provide a pathway for the district’s top youngsters to showcase their skills at a higher level, four college players will be given that chance as the season progress — Oliver Bunny, Ethan Presow, William Brown and Hunter Jacobsen.
Former Junior Black Stick Benedict van Woerkom, a regular in Capital national league sides over recent seasons, is one of two notable defections from the Dalefield side this year after transferring to the Southern United club in Melbourne. The other is former national age group rep Joseph Robertson who is taking a break from the game.
Assistant manager Mike van Woerkom, who will share that role with Bernard Lett and Dave Finlayson, is confident the Dalefield men’s team will do Wairarapa hockey proud again in 2018.
“We’ve got a lot of players who have been there, done that and they are as keen as ever to acquit themselves well,” he said. “Nothing comes easy at the top level, but we are excited about what they could achieve.”