Canterbury men's premier league will be without one of hockey's brightest stars when it starts this weekend but it still boasts a wealth of emerging talent.
Hayden Shaw, 33, has left the Selwyn club in his brother Brad's hands as he steps down from club hockey.
Selwyn finished fourth last year and coach Shane Maddaford is confident they will be competitive even with Shaw's retirement.
The team's pre-season form has their coach hopeful of a top-two finish and Maddaford will be looking for a strong showing from his senior players.
Carlton Redcliffs have plenty to look forward to in the coming season after clinching the title last season.
Coach Jeremy Symonds said the team was similar to last year but had been boosted with the return of Shashil Govind. They are confident of a good showing and are focusing on consistency.
Hornby is coming back into the premier league after toiling in the first division for a couple of years.
Club captain John Turner said the team was young but relishing the challenge of tougher competition.
''The boys decided they will have a crack and be as competitive as possible.''
They have a few younger players who are looking forward to the challenge of playing against some of the older, more experienced, players. Two players, Willie Mace-Cochram and James Donaldson, are only 15.
Harewood hope to continue their good form last season where they were edged out in the final by Carlton Redcliffs but managed to hold on to the round robin shield.
University is looking sharp and eager to prove they are better than the fifth place finish they managed last year.
Avon managed a third place and, despite losing a lot of their squad over the summer, they have rallied and recruited the mandatory 15 players, including Zac Staples, brother of Isaac Staples who has recently moved to Perth.
HSOB/Burnside went through a rebuilding phase last year and return with a desire to start knocking off the bigger teams, according to manager Mark Beatson.
''We have a good number of players, good fitness and the team is looking well balanced.''
Defending champions HSOB/Burnside and Harewood look set to continue their strong showing from last season in the women's competition.
The Hornby women's mid-table finish last year is something they want to improve on. They are the current holders of the round robin shield.
Carlton Redcliffs have a new coach and players are hoping to emulate their male counterparts' success.
''We certainly have the team and coaches behind us to make that happen,'' women's club captain Sarah Byers said.
Avon were third last year and hope to challenge Harewood and HSOB/Burnside.
High School Old Boys/Burnside and Selwyn kick off things at Marist Park today for the women followed by Avon against Hornby and Carlton Redcliffs play Harewood at Nunweek Park.
In the men's competition, Hornby will take on defending champions Harewood in their return to the top flight, Avon and HSOB/Burnside square off and University have Selwyn to contend with at Nunweek.
Defending champions Carlton Redcliffs start with a bye.
- The Press
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