Grafton Hockey legend Brent Livermore.
Grafton Hockey legend Brent Livermore. Debrah Novak

Top list of halves for Dream Team

THIS week Grafton Hockey's Dream Team selection panel has been discussing the halves positions.

The short list of Grafton halves is a magnificent list of high-performing athletes. All of them are state players and of course Brent Livermore is the standout, with Australian Kookaburras selection.

First, a description of the vital role that the halves play in every hockey team.

The distance that halves travel in a game averages 10-12km.

That is twice the distance of forwards and backs at 5-6km, although admittedly forwards do more sprinting in their workload.

Amazingly, international players cover twice the distance.

The half line needs to support the forward line when in attack, injecting into the attack, but also be prepared to defend against the opposing strikers to well inside the circle.

Halves require outstanding distribution and receiving skills, backed by sound channelling and excellent scanning searching for unmarked players.

The short list being considered for the three halves roles is:

 Phil Cavanagh - in 1980 Phil appeared in his first New South Wales team, in the under-14s. He added another two years in under-16s, including a stint as vice-captain of the New South Wales Country and New South Wales teams. He has continued with multiple selections in New South Wales veterans teams. Outstanding stick work and distribution skills.

 Michael Wunderlich - a mainstay of Avros during their mighty years and also when times were tough. Phil and Mick were in the same New South Wales 14s and 16s teams in 1979 and 1980. Mick has also had a stellar career in New South Wales veterans. A player renowned for his dispossession skills and his scanning and reading of a game from centre half. Introduced the flat tackle to the game.

 Brent Livermore - 300 Tests for Australia, including Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medals, indicate the longevity of this Grafton product. The Brent Livermore Field was named in his honour. Started with selection in the New South Wales under-15s in 1991. Played in every age group for New South Wales, and a permanent current member of the New South Wales Waratahs NHL team. His first synthetic training was on the Lower Fisher Park cricket pitch. By setting his goals early in life, Brent has toured the world as an elite athlete.

 Brent Paine - a wonderful, dedicated athlete, who always tried to evaluate how he could improve his game. In 1994 he represented New South Wales in under-14s and continued through the age groups to New South Wales under-18s in 1998.

 Nick Russ - a solid, no-frills player, rarely flustered and a forwards' delight with his pinpoint passes. In 2003 he made the New South Wales 16s and this was followed all the way through the 17s, 18s and 21s. He crowned this achievement with Australian under-21 selection and a gold medal at the 8 Nations. Currently a premier league player in the Sydney competition.

 Quentin Pursey - a six-year period of state selection from under-13s in 2003-04 to under-18s in 2009, all in the left half position. A stalwart of the Sailors club and school captain of Grafton High, the softly spoken athlete earned three players' players awards in Darwin from his NSW under-18 teammates.

The short list so far.

Goalies: Ron Chaffey, Robert Allen, Scott Garner, and Ryan Creed. (One only)

Backs: Jim "Wimpy" Thornwhaite, David Slater, Robert Scott, Rick Sampson and Mick Hughes. (Two to be selected)

Next week - inners.



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