A POSITIVE FRAME OF MIND FOR WALES AHEAD OF 2018 OPEN SERIES!
With the Gold Coast now just a memory and with the Poland test series having given a number of young players a first taste of senior international competition, Wales’ senior men have completed their preparation ahead of the first round of the Open Series in Croatia.
Going up against some familiar opposition from past competitions, Co-Captain Lewis Prosser is confident in the squad, despite the recent disruption due to study and work commitments. The recent three match test series against Poland, saw Wales blood four fresh faces, something Prosser fully endorses, suggesting it increases both the depth and competition within the squad. Stating that “in general it makes a squad play better, collectively and individually as well.”
The men will be facing Austria, Switzerland, Croatia, and Slovakia during their time at the Open, with Slovakia being their opening game. Austria who are ranked 5 places above Wales and are a well know foe are likely to pose the sternest of tests. Having played each other in a number of tight and competitive test series over the past few years, Wales know that controlling their key players will be pivotal in deciding the outcome of that key encounter.
Head Coach, Zak Jones had plenty of positives to share ahead of the squad jetting off to Croatia:
With only a short but intense preparation period and despite missing a number of experienced players at various points, I am really pleased with how we have continued to build on the positive performances and strong foundations of the Commonwealth Games. The intensity and quality in this training block has been excellent and the squad are very much looking forward to what we know will be the very different and tough challenges that the sides we face in Croatia will present. With a very good blend of youth and experience, the potential in this squad really excites me and we will look to continue to develop our positive, high tempo, attacking style of hockey
The squad arrive in the Croatian Capital, Zagreb on Friday 22nd June, two days ahead of their opening game, allowing them key time to fit in some final training sessions. The unfamiliar pitch and country will offer another challenge for the Welsh men, who’ll be looking to get settled as quickly as possible and become comfortable with what will be their playing environment until the end of June.
Wales will play four games in six days but despite this heavy schedule Prosser is not overly concerned:
We usually have three games in three days, or four games in five days. We are a very fit squad, we take our fitness very seriously and our strength and conditioning programme has been unreal, so our fitness has, as a squad, become better and better
The men play Slovakia on the 25th June, before facing Austria on the 26th, Switzerland on the 28th and finally Croatia on the 30th, and there is plenty of confidence in the Welsh camp leading up to the Open Series. The mature players who are experienced in similar, round-robin formatted competitions at such a top level will undoubtedly help those who are seeing it all for the first time, and recovery sessions will be key to keeping legs fresh and minds focused.
Both squad and coaching staff are fully aware of the differences between the Commonwealth Games and the Open Series. The countries that Wales men will be facing may not be the top ranked sides that Wales fought hard against on the Gold Coast, but they will certainly offer new challenges for the Dragons to tackle. For Prosser, the focus is on their own performances rather than the opposition “if we play our way and the way we know we are capable of, we are confident that we will perform well and finish high up in the tournament.”
SQUAD GK David Kettle Teddington GK James Fortnam Cardiff & Met DEF Gareth Furlong Surbiton DEF Dan Kyriakides Reading DEF Hywel Jones University of Birmingham DEF Ioan Wall Cardiff & Met DEF Eddy Evans Cardiff & Met SC Jacob Draper Cardiff & Met SC Lewis Prosser © Surbiton SC Luke Hawker © Cardiff & Met MF/FWD Dale Hutchinson Reading MF Rupert Shipperley Hampstead & Westminster MF/FWD Owain Dolan-‐Gray Reading MF Alf Dinnie Cardiff & Met FWD Ben Francis Reading FWD James Carson Reading FWD Rhys Bradshaw Cardiff & Met FWD/MF Joe Naughalty Brighton & Hove
GK Jack Tranter Nottingham University DEF/FWD Rhys Doherty Richmond SC Rob Mugridge Oxted SC/MF Rhodri Furlong University of Birmingham MF/FWD Jolyon Morgan University of Birmingham DEF Alistair Clift East Grinstead
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Article: Stevie Marie-Jones