ORANGE co-captain Adam Hurford is confident his side has what it takes to claim this year’s Hockey NSW Open Men’s Field State Championship division two title at Broadmeadow.
And it’d take a brave man to bet against him.
Looking to go one better than last year’s runners-up effort, Orange hockey selectors have named a 16-man squad with four Burwood Briars stars as well as ACT under 21s representative Tim Eslick and Lithgow Panthers gun Nic Milne.
Cap those additions with a throng of Orange Wanderers players at the top of their game, and Orange will head into its first game against Crookwell on Saturday morning gunning for top place in pool B.
“This is the strongest side we’ve had in three or four years,” Hurford, just one of four captains named in an Orange leadership group said.
The key to the strength in this year’s squad lies in its depth.
“In previous years we’d take a sub off and the player that went on might have been a bit softer around the edges. This year we’ve got strength right across the field and on the bench,” Hurford continued.
“The goal is to obviously make the finals and be top of our pool, but with the team we’ve got this year we’d love to go one step further and win it.”
This year’s open men’s field state championship is being staged at the Newcastle International Hockey Centre, and Orange has been grouped alongside Newcastle (2), New England, Nepean (1) and first-up opponents Crookwell.
“The majority of the teams in the group we played last year,” Hurford said.
“Our hardest game will be Newcastle, we beat them 1-0 in the last five minutes last year. In saying that though, it’s a new year and it’ll be a hard-go for us.”
Alongside the notable recruits, aiding Orange’s bid for state championship glory is the side’s enjoyable recovery sessions following each day of the tournament.
If ice baths can be classed as enjoyable, that is.
“It hurts like hell but it’s fantastic,” Hurford laughed.
Orange’s first game is against Crookwell from 8am on Saturday.
The 2014 Hockey NSW Open Men’s Field State Championship begin on Saturday, June 7, with the finals to be played on Monday, June 9.
ORANGE: Darryl Kennewell (gk), Chris Alport (gk), Adam Hurford, Andrew Rutledge, Zac Royal, Lewis Mike, Alex Said, Hayden Dillon, Tim Eslick, Keiran Gentles, Derryn Allsop, Lee Brady, Nick Sharp, Al Murray, Michael Dillon, Nic Milne.