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New coach out for the threepeat

Experienced goalkeeper John Forsyth will have a new-look defensive line to marshal. PHOTO/FILE

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

The threepeat is the ultimate goal for new Farriers Dalefield premier men’s player-coach Benedict van Woerkom.

But first, the former Junior Black Stick wants to get the new-look team playing the ‘Dalefield style’ that has successfully taken them to the past two Wellington Premier Championships, and four out of the past six titles. That included achieving an unbeaten season in 2020 – a first for the team.

Van Woerkom said the keys to past successes have been based on playing their brand of hockey, and strong discipline.

“We have little tolerance for people who don’t do the non-negotiables,” he said.

“Just the simple things like being the hardest working team out there, and every minute you’re on the field, you work your butt off.

“We don’t care if you make mistakes, but if you do, you turn around and you run back, you don’t backchat the umpire, you hold yourself accountable for your role, and you do the best that you can do for the team.

“When we piece all that together, we get results, and we put out good performances.

“The goal is to win the bloody thing again, but we know that is not a given.”

The loss of the vastly experienced Trent Lett, Graeme Murrell, Ethan Presow, Ethan Cohen, and Gus Borren has left a big hole at the defensive end, while Black Stick Dane Lett’s involvement will be limited with the national team’s build-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Their loss has been offset with the arrivals of Miles Houlihan from Northern United and Marcus Ambrose, a Central Under-18 player from Hawke’s Bay.

Promising youngsters Ben Schwass, Alex Clark, James Crawley, and Craig Pankhurst have also been included.

The move to coaching is not new for van Woerkom, who has previously assisted with secondary school teams and lent his expertise to the Dalefield premier women’s team. But the step into the head role, as well as playing, will challenge the 28-year-old.

“It’s about finding the happy medium, and around how I deal with the guys who are essentially my peers, as well now being in charge,” he said.

“It will be a good learning curve for me to understand the game while I’m playing it as well and being able to break down how the opposition are playing, and then relaying that information to the team, rather than just thinking about my role.”

Van Woerkom said he would tap into the vast knowledge of Dane Lett, as well as other experienced team members.

“Dane’s someone who commands respect, and when Dane speaks, everyone’s ears prick up, and their eyes open a little bit wider.

“He’s playing at international level, the best level hockey in the world, and it would be silly not to talk to him, and before trainings and before games, I will be picking his brain to see what he thinks.”

Van Woerkom is also hoping to play in today’s opening game against fierce rivals Hutt United at the National Hockey Stadium, having only recovered from hip surgery in December, although his playing time will be limited.

As for Hutt, van Woerkom is expecting to face a new-look side, who like Dalefield have lost some experienced players from last season.

“I think a couple of senior guys, maybe Ollie Logan and Sam Miskimmin, but they also have a few unknowns – a couple of guys who have come up from down south, and they’re very much unknown to me.

“We know what we’re going to get with Hutt and we’re going to get a tough niggly game, and they’re going to try and poke and prod us until we give them something, and they’ll be
well-structured.”

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