While many coaches have ben fretting about selection for the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, coach of South Africa Giles Bonnet, has made the whole process look simple. His side remains the same as the 18 players who brought home bronze from the Champions Challenge in Glasgow. The continuity goes further than that, with 13 of the squad having played in the 2012 Olympics.
The same is not true of New Zealand; while old-timers Kayla Sharland, Emily Naylor and Krystal Forgesson have all amassed more than 200 caps each, coach Mark Hager has introduced four 19-year-olds into the squad – Michaela Curtis, Liz Thompson, Sophie Cocks and Rose Keddell. After the team announcement, Sophie tweeted about her pride at playing alongside "Black Sticks legend, Kayla Sharland." Mark Hager will also be relieved that goal-scoring machine Katie Glynn is back from injury.
Another coach who is setting great store by youth is Belgium's Kina Pascal. His team contains two of the youngest World Cup players ever. Emma Puvrez and Stephanie Vanden Borre are both 16, and captain Charlotte de Vos said there were other young players who were unlucky not to make the team "it would have just made the squad too unbalanced," she said.
Jason Lee, the coach of England, will wish that he could be welcoming back his midfield stalwart Helen Richardson-Walsh. The player has been battling with a back injury but, despite intensive rehabilitation and a pitch comeback in a friendly against Canada, the coach felt her recovery wasn't soon enough. Two relative newcomers to the squad are Ellie Watton and Zoe Shipperley, who have 11 caps and four caps respectively. In an interview with The Telegraph, Zoe said: "I hadn’t even considered going to the World Cup. I didn’t even know when the dates were or where it was being played."
Another player who has lost the battle with an injury is Australia's long-serving player Teneal Attard. She has been replaced by Jayde Taylor, who has had her own injury problems. Coach Adam Commens said: "Jayde has come back after a long rehabilitation from foot surgery and has performed very well this year." The Hockeyroos have made a lot of changes to the side that contested the World Cup four years ago. Just four of those players return to the squad, although captain Madonna Blyth (277 caps) has enough experience to share around.
The Netherlands women's team has gone for a blend of youth and experience. At just 18, Xan de Waard will be one of the youngest players at the tournament, while the experienced Naomi van As has recovered from injury and will be taking her place in a line-up that has several players who were part of the Olympic gold medal-winning team in 2012.
The team sheet from China indicates that this is a very similar team to the one that took sixth in the 2012 Olympics. Newcomers to this squad include Guo Jiajia and Bingfeng Gu, while the side will be captained by Qiuxia Cui.
"We have not won a gold medal at a World Cup since 1981, it is time to win gold again," says captain of the German squad Julia Muller. In her team she has self-confessed hot-head Anne Schroder, a 19-year-old who says that among her pet hates are 'hunger, having to warm up and losing…"
Full team lists will be available HERE.
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