Let the games begin
By TONY WHITE
NEW South Wales head hockey coach Larry McIntosh said yesterday he hopes this weekend's hockey extravaganza in Grafton ? featuring two exhibition games between New South Wales and arch rivals Queensland ? will become an annual event and expand to include women's teams from both states.
"With support from the Grafton Hockey Association, hopefully this could develop into an annual event," McIntosh said.
"I was in Brisbane last week with the National Youth Program and had discussions with Queensland coach Greg Browning.
"We're both hoping this could become a regular, ongoing event in Grafton or if not, the North Coast area.
"It could possibly be expanded to include men and women. This is the start, hopefully something will develop."
The timing of the event before the start of the Australian Hockey League (AHL) in late February is another plus, McIntosh said.
"Any opportunity you have before the commencement of the national hockey league of attracting good competition is indeed healthy," McIntosh said.
"Young players need to be tested before the AHL begins and several will have the opportunity to do that in Grafton."
Three Grafton-born players will turn out for NSW ? Olympic hero Brent Livermore, Peter Kelly and Robert Green. McIntosh said four players listed in the initial squad ? Matthew Naylor, Daniel McPherson, Darryn Booth and Eli Matherson ? would miss the tour due to commitments with Australia A in the series against Belgium currently running in Sydney.
"This, however, will provide good opportunities for young players like Peter Kelly and Matthew Wark," McIntosh said.
Queensland has also been weakened due to Australia A and other commitments.
"Seven of our gold medallists normally in the AHL team are either involved in the Belgium series or overseas," coach Browning said.
"We're bringing 13 players. It's a mix of experienced guys who have played in the national league for the past couple of years, blended with a number of Under-21 players."
The first match gets underway at 12pm today with the mother-daughter game. The AHL game is scheduled for 6pm.