Carr for Canterbury captain 'easy' choice for coach
Aaron Ford had no sleepless nights before awarding Stacey Carr the captain's armband for the Canterbury Cats women's national hockey league campaign.
"Given her experience, that was a pretty easy decision to make," Canterbury coach Ford said.
Carr, a former Black Sticks representative, hopped off the international carousel after the 2010 Commonwealth Games but her decision to return to rep duties has given Canterbury a lift ahead of the season which starts with a double-header against Southern today and Central tomorrow.
Managing the travel, and this could be where a player of Carr's experience offers assistance, will be a factor in whether Canterbury collate competition points. Today they travel to Timaru and then to Levin, which involves a lengthy commute from Wellington tomorrow morning, to meet Central.
Although the Black Sticks women's players have returned to New Zealand after their impressive displays at the London Olympic Games, where they lost the bronze medal play-off match, none will be representing Canterbury.
Instead Ford is prepared to rely on a potpourri of experience and enthusiastic youth in an attempt to make the play-offs on September 1 and 2.
"I hope we can make the top four and we have to give ourselves every chance of doing that."
Youth will be a major part of Canterbury's package this year.
Schoolgirls Cass Reid and Sophie Cocks, who attend Craighead Diocesan College in Timaru and St Margaret's College respectively, gave impressive performances for the Canterbury under-21 side at the national tournament earlier this year and will be expected to provide attacking threats up front.
In addition, Ford has selected Bridget Blackwood, Sophie Devine and Amelia Gibson, who were members of the Black Sticks squad before the Olympics, but missed selection.
Reid, Sian Fremaux, Rachel McCann, Olivia Merry and Jenny Storey were members of the Junior Black Sticks squad.
Canterbury have had a comprehensive buildup, recording wins over Southern, Capital, Midlands and Auckland, and a draw against North Harbour.
Ford is realistic about getting too excited about those results: "The likes of Auckland didn't have their Black Sticks who were at the Olympics, so we are not reading anything into those results."
Up to eight of the Black Sticks women's players who were involved in the Olympics will play this weekend.
Auckland will be reinforced by the return of Katie Glynn and Sam Harrison, and former internationals Jan Rowsell and Honor Carter will also provide leadership.
Midlands gain Olympians Cat Finlayson, Sam Charlton and drag flick exponent Clarissa Eshuis alongside Black Sticks goalkeeper Sally Rutherford.
Meanwhile, the Canterbury Cavaliers men's squad meet Southern in Timaru today and also fly to Levin tomorrow to face Central.
Former Black Stick Gareth Brooks, who lives in Wellington, has been recruited as their Region of Origin player and like Carr he will be expected to guide a team that has several players in their early 20s.
Auckland, who shared the title with Central last year after the final was called off because of snow, are the favourites to prevail this season and have included Australian star Brent Livermore on their roster.
Canterbury Cats: Sophie Devine, Bridget Blackwood, Erin Smyth, Cass Reid, Olivia Merry, Jordy Grant, Pippa Hayward, Tenille Burnside, Rachel McCann, Stacey Carr, Fiona Morrison, Sarah Byers, Sophie Cocks, Amelia Gibson, Sian Fremaux, Hazel Lund, Hannah Marshall, Jenny Storey.
Canterbury Cavaliers: Tim Miskimmin, Todd Robinson, Trent Summers, Redvers Wilbur, Mitch Hayde, Mohammad Ali Rahmann, Gareth Brooks (RO CAP), Angus Hazlett, Willie Davidson, Reuben Koorey, Ryan Cocking, James Kearney, Ben Tanner, George Enersen, Ben Smith, Isaac Staples, Tom Louden, Matt Moore.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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