Wales further complimented their Open Series preparation over the weekend; taking on higher ranked team Poland in a tough three match test series held in the city of Gniezno. The series was a repeat of last year’s challenge, which saw Wales walk away with a series win over their Polish counterparts.
Although the result from this year’s challenge saw a different outcome for Wales, their time together in Poland allowed the squad opportunity to regroup after their most recent exploits on the Gold Coast.
Balancing the disappointment of the match results with the positives of the overall experience, Head Coach for Wales Men, Zak Jones told us:
Although the group are a little disappointed not to win the series, the trip was a hugely positive one on many fronts. As well as four players – Alistair Clift, Rhys Bradshaw, Eddy Evans and Jolyon Morgan earning their first caps, a number of players achieved major milestones with Ben Francis and Rupert Shipperley earning their fiftieth caps, whilst David Kettle became only the thirteenth Welshman to pass the 100 cap mark. In the final game he also became Wales most capped goalkeeper of all time reaching 102 and overtaking Austin Savage (100) and Chris Ashcroft (102) which is an incredible achievement
Reflecting on such an outstanding achievement, Kettle said:
I’m very humbled to go past two greats in Austin Savage and Chris Ashcroft. When you are a custodian of the shirt you always want to do the 3 feathers proud and keep pushing Wales onto bigger and better things. I’m very proud to have played my own small part in that and I’m excited to see how this group develops over the next 12 months ahead of the European A division in Belgium
Jones preempted a challenging series against Poland this time around, with a number of players unable to join the squad due to exam and work commitments. However their absence presented opportunity for younger athletes to gain valuable experience, broadening and strengthening the group.
With six Commonwealth Games athletes missing we did show our inexperience and were a little naive at times, especially in the second test. However, I was really pleased with the learning that took place throughout the trip. Our performance and the result in the final game is evidence of the progress we made and shows the depth we are starting to develop within the squad
Fri – Poland 1 – Wales 0
Sat – Poland 3 – Wales 1
Sun Poland 0 – Wales 1
Wales travel to Croatia on Friday 22nd June to complete in the Hockey Open Series – match and tournament details can be found here.