The Midlands representative teams have landed four top-drawer imports to bolster their respective National Hockey League title aspirations.
Experienced Australian defender Bevan George and Malaysian star Selvaraju Sandrakasi will turn out for the Bayleys Midlands men's team and the English duo of Chloe Rogers and Charlotte Hartley will bolster the women's side when they pursue national titles next month.
The Midlands men's side won last year's NHL crown with a pair of Australian imports prominent striker/midfielder David Guest was voted player of the tournament after netting 10 goals for the winners, and Matthew Wells was a defensive standout.
The imposing George is likely to fill a roll similar to that of Wells when Midlands begin their men's title defence next month.
George, 32, who captained Australia at last year's Beijing Olympics and has played 208 matches for his country after making his debut 10 years ago, was voted Australia's best player from 2003 to 2007 and adjudged the player of the tournament at the 2005 Champions Trophy.
Sandrakasi is regarded as his country's top player and the 24-year-old played top-flight club hockey in the German professional league last year.
Rogers has 79 international caps 50 for England and 29 for Great Britain and was England's top scorer at the 2006 World Cup.
Fellow countrywoman Hartley, 23, was a member of the England team that won bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
She is a versatile player and can play either up front or in midfield.
Midlands will open their 2009 NHL campaign on September 12, at Hamilton's Gallagher Hockey Centre, with men's and women's matches against Auckland.
The matches will be held on the same day the All Blacks host South Africa at Waikato Stadium and Midlands hockey are hoping to capitalise on the sporting fever of the day by making their games free of charge for spectators.
They are hoping for a crowd of around 1000 at the game.
The rest of the NHL tournament will be held in Christchurch from September 19-27.
- Waikato Times
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