Grafton hockey quintet out to wow NSW selectors
HOCKEY: After the Grafton under-13 Division 1 team made it to the semi-finals of the Hockey NSW Field State Championships at Wagga Wagga last weekend, five players have caught the attention of NSW selectors and have been picked in the extended U13 Boys field squad.
A total of 45 boys have been picked in the extended team, with Jesse McGarvie, Jack Lougher, Josh Perry, Keaton Stutt and Harry Hughes all aiming to impress their coaches and selectors at a two-day training camp in Port Macquarie next weekend to earn a berth in the NSW team to play at the 2018 U13 Australian Carnival in Hobart, Tasmania, in October.
Damien Winter recently coached the boys in the Grafton Hockey Association U13 Boys team at Wagga Wagga and said it was a good reward for their efforts in some difficult conditions and against tough opposition.
"It's very satisfying for me as a coach to see them get picked, because all the boys showed up and played well and they obviously have done enough to show the selectors that they are good enough to represent their state," Winter said.
"I personally think that for any of the kids that make it into the squad at any age, either for the boys or girls, it's great that they know that they're the best in NSW.
"They get to go away next weekend down at Port Macquarie for a training weekend and from that there are two teams picked.
"The boys are good enough and I think they'll get a kick out of it and gain a lot of confidence from being selected.
"They are all good little players."
While Jesse McGarvie and Keaton Stutt have been selected in NSW teams in the past, the selection heralds a first for goalkeeper Jack Lougher and defenders Josh Perry and Harry Hughes.
"At Wagga Wagga, Jack was brilliant all weekend," Winter said. "To only let in three goals in five games until the semi-final was outstanding.
"Josh Perry is actually from Bellingen and plays in Coffs Harbour as well as Grafton, and he had a wow of a weekend, and so did Harry.
"All five deserve to be there, and it's a great opportunity for them to learn some more skills from the best players in the state for their age as well as gain some confidence from being there."
Winter said while the boys had done well to reach the extended squad, there was still work to be done to make it through to the final NSW teams to travel south later in the year for the U13 Australian Carnival.
"In any sport you can be too confident and then get disappointed," he said.
"As long as the boys show up and do what they're asked to do and try their hardest, show their skills for the coaches, anything can happen.
"There are 45 kids in the squad with two teams of 16 to be selected to go away to Hobart in October.
"They're good enough to make it this far, so now it's all up to them. Hopefully they can go the next step."