Ten coaches emerged from the pressure cooker of the player draft with their final teams that will do battle in the 2017 edition of the Premier Hockey League (PHL), starting later this month.
In a draft process reminiscent of the NBA and NFL, the coaches did battle for their preferred players. These players filled the remaining eight places after each side was allocated six marquee stars, chosen by the national high performance panel, to promote a level playing field. Coaches were required to release between four and eight players from their 2016 squads.
Head coach of the men’s defending champions, Maropeng Cavemen, Mark Sanders was a happy man after the conclusion of the draft.
“We’re very, very happy with the 2017 Cavemen,” he said. Speaking about some of the players he’d managed to snap up, Sanders added: “Thabang Modise, also known as Smiley, plays up here in Jo’burg at Wits University, and he is an exciting young player. Chad Fucher is also at Wits University and also very exciting. I’m happy. I think we’ve got some good quality youngsters and some fantastic players to help the older guys to retain their heads a bit sometimes.”
Sihle Ntuli, coach of the Drakensberg Dragons, said: “This year all teams have been given six marquee players which automatically brings extra quality to the teams. This concept is fantastic as some of the younger provincial players find themselves playing in the same environment as some of our senior international players. The national selectors in my opinion have split the marquee players up really well and the balance among the teams allows for a good contest over the three weeks.
“Going into year two I really believe the standard of the competition will pick up with both players and coaches having a better understanding of how to phase the tournament.”
Six men’s and six women’s team will contest the second edition of the PHL which gets under way on November 25 at the Randburg Astro in Johannesburg with further action on the following two weekends and the playoffs taking place on 11-12 December.
The respective under-21 teams had already been selected prior to the draft, but those not making the sides were available to be picked for the other squads.
Newly promoted to head coach of the Madikwe Rangers, who finished runners up last year, Tsoanelo Pholo, spoke about the pressure of the draft process.
“I’ve been in hot seats before as a coach next to the field but being in the draft room is something different – very, very exciting, on-the-edge stuff.
“I’m over the moon with every pick I got to make today. Long hours last night thinking about the players I wanted and I think I got every single one. I’m really excited to get going with a young and I think very talented team that I got to pick. It’s going to be a very competitive tournament and I’m looking forward to it.”
Coach of the Blyde River Bunters, 2016 champions of the women’s tournament, Lindsey Wright, meanwhile, was happy with the outcome of the draft.
“It was interesting. You’ve obviously got to make sure your plan is in order and look around players as to what the other teams were picking and then hopefully come up with alternative plans to meet the requirements of the team.
Speaking about the PHL in general, the former national captain added: “It’s an exciting concept. It fills a definite hole in South African hockey where competitive competition is needed. I think what was really exciting about 2016 was that every game was very closely fought and that’s exactly what SA hockey needs when they’re going into big events like World Cup and Commonwealth Games. You need to be playing consistently competitive hockey that brings out the right qualities in the national teams.”
Current national captain Nicolene Terblanche is one of the marquee players in the Bunters side.
“There are a lot of new players coming into the Bunters team which is cool. That’s the thing that makes the PHL so good – playing with different players from different provinces and I think the teams are more balanced this year so that’s exciting,” she said afterwards.
PHL schedule (all matches played at the Randburg Astro, Johannesburg):
November 25-26: Pool games
December 2-3: Pool games
December 9-10: Pool games
December 11-12: Playoffs
All matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Maropeng Cavemen: Clinton Panther, Rassie Pieterse, Tommy Hammond, Miguel De Graca, Lance Louw, Reza Rosenburg, Michael Abrahams, Hendy Seerane, Nicholas Berichon, Brynn Cleak, Ricky West, Bernard Greybe, Cameron MacKay, Lungani Gabela, Matthew Davies, Thabang Modise, Chad Futcher, Cerezo Comerasamy, Andrew Buckley, Brad Robertson, Coach: Mark Sanders
Drakensberg Dragons: Austin Smith, Gowan Jones, Jethro Eustice, Matt de Sousa, Melrick Maddocks, Nqobile Ntuli, Taylor Dart, Chad Cairncross, Nick Gonzalves, Dalan Phillips, Dylan Swanepoel, Cody van Wyk, David Agar, Mbuso Mgobozi, Tim Kirkman, Gareth Heynes, Amkelwe Letuka, Stephen McManus, Lance de Kock, Cameron Ryan, Coach: Sihle Ntuli
Addo Elephants: Julian Hykes, Ignatius Malgraaf, Robin Jones, Matthew Martins, Jonty Robinson, Dan Sibald, Sinoxolo Mbekeni, Onke Letuka, Jody Erasmus, Damian Kimfley, Andrew Manson, Jermaine Johnson, Joshua August, Brett Walraven, Chad Durrheim, Roberto Bosman, Winray Christoffels, Franco Carstens, Zamokuhle Ngubo, Bjorn Sorensen, Coach: Cheslyn Gie
Mapungubwe Mambas: Owen Mvimbi, Tevin Kok, Rusten Abrahams, Nduduzo Lembethe, Francois Pretorius, Richard Curtis, Travis Hardnick, Sizwe Mtembu, Kirwin Christoffels, Michael Marki, Callum Buchanan, Winchester Scott, Ross Gonzalves, Ross Hetem, Dillon Langeveld, Michael Forrest, Greg Last, Kewan Harries, Jarryd Jones, Steven Paulo, Coach: Krinesan Moodley
Garden Route Gazelles: Jean-Pierre De Voux, Keenan Horne, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Ryan Julius, Alex Stewart, Siya Nolutshungu, Reece Arendse, Satchi Reddy, Gerald Mpopo, Dylan Coombes, Michael Mulder, Lyndon Fredricks, Andile Ndlovu, Duncan Fischer, Le-Neal Jackson, Jayson Reed, Berne Burger, Shaun Baker, Brandon James, Craig Wiid, Coach: Mark Hopkins
Golden Gate Gladiators (U21):
Muzzamil Sheik, William Eveleigh, Andrew Hobson, Tyson Dlungwana, Courtney Hallé, Jared Cass, Jacki Mohlaba, Sam Mvimbi, Connor Beauchamp, Chris Makaba, Ross Campbell, Mark Chong, Matthew Roman, Luke Schooling, Che February, Spencer Botes, Dayaan Cassiem, Max Pike, Brad Sherwood, Laython Coombs, Coach: Gareth Ewing
Blyde River Bunters: Phumi Mbande, Nicolene Terblanche, Izelle Verster, Natalie Esteves, Celia Evans, Marizen Marais, Elmien Marais, Anel Luus, Lauren Nina, Kaydee Miller, Christine Roos, Chrizelle Andries, Onthatile Segaole-Zulu, Julia Fleming, Sinalo Jafta, Carmen Smith, Nicole Kemp, Marissa Poolman, Meeghan Klomp, Hannli Hattingh, Coach: Lindsey Wright
Orange River Rafters: Cheree Greyvenstein, Dirkie Chaimberlaine, Tarryn Mallet, Amy Ethrington, Jessica de Bruyn Smith, Sulette Damons, Luche Klaasen, Zimasa Dunywa, Bronwyn Kretzman, Nicole Koenig, Sulize de Klerk, Cornelle Holtzhausen, Francisco Darkoh, Kelsey Minaar, Leratho Mahlangu, Jackie Scheepers, Donna Small, Chane Hartel, Amy Celeste Greaves, Georgia Grobler, Coach: Shaun Hulley
Madikwe Rangers: Mmatshepo Modipane, Lisa Deetlefs, Bernadette Coston, Toni Marks, Sylvia van Jaarsveldt, Lillian du Plessis, Louise de Jager, Lisa Hawker, Amore de Wet, Cheneal Raubenheimer, Isabella Da Rocha, Courtney Abrahams, Lelethu Ndakisa, Anel van der Venter, Shindre-Lee Simmons, Lezaan Janse van Vuuren, Kerry Eagleton (Pearton), Londeka Dlamini, Claire Gibbings, Robyn Pinder, Coach: Tsoanelo Pholo
St Lucia Lakers: Marileze van Tonder, Kara Stella, Shelley Jones, Quanita Bobbs, Erin Hunter, Stephanie Baxter, Heraldine Olin, Chardinay Penniston, Jenna Shuker, Karen Bowyer, Zimi Shange, Kelly Reed, Pollert Mashau, Bianca Wood, Kim Hubach, Ayanga Baleni, Megan Anderson, Tiffany Jones, Paige Phillips, Charne Hill, Coach: Inky Zondi
Wineland Wings: Nicole La Fleur, Jade Mayne, Ilse Davids, Jess O’Connor, Tarryn Glasby, Line Malan, Robyn Johnson, Cathrine McNaulty, Nomphilo Thenjwayo, Michelle Dias, Anche Nortje, Kaila Flemming, Thando Chiti, Sonika van Heerden, Kirsten Leigh Wagner, Hope Nkosi, Miche Bennett, Daniella Rhodes, Sasha Sivertsen, Lida Kotze, Coach: Ryan Pillay
Namaqualand Daisies (U21): Kirsty Adams, Monique Bartsch, Stephanie Botha, Frances Carstens, Ashleigh Datnow, Courtney du Preez, Tegan Fourie, Lizanne Jacobs, Mmamoagi Agi Kungoane, Charnè Maddoks, Sisipho Magwaza (gk), Ongeziwe Mali, Kristen Paton, Hannah Pearce, Jamie Southgate, Sadisiwe Tabata, Nomnikelo Veto Moya Smith (gk), Simone Gouws, Casey Jane Botha, Coach: Rob van Ginkel