The University of Johannesburg will use the Varsity Hockey tournament starting next weekend to rebuild their squad after losing a number of experienced players.
Hockey manager Elize le Roux said several players had graduated or were past the eligible age of 25, but that the youngsters available added a fresh element to the squad.
“We are taking a new view into this tournament as we have a young team during this rebuilding period,” she said after the team won the title in 2014 and 2016.
“We will not be getting ahead of ourselves and will focus on each game as it happens.”
This year’s competition gets under way with a round of four matches at Wits in Johannesburg from May 4 to 7.
As usual in varsity events of this nature there are a number of innovations which will test the teams.
“I think the men like the format,” said Le Roux. “The power play and the goals systems mean you face the challenge of managing each game in a different way, according to the opposition.”
The power-play rule can be taken by one side at any stage of the game.
The side choosing to initiate the power play force the opposition to remove two players from the field for a short period. Any goal scored during the power play counts for two goals.
Le Roux said their efforts would depend on the entire team, which will be coached by Garreth Ewing.
“Kyle Lion-Cachet, who is captain, and Courtney Halle are SA U21 players, while we will also draw from the talent and experience of Chad Burke and Dylan Swanepoel in our link line and SA U18 players Che February and Spencer Botes.”
The remaining universities in the competition are Wits, UCT, Stellenbosch, Nelson Mandela, North West, Pretoria and Free State.