EMBRACING their inner zen, Orange Wanderers captain Alex Said explained this year’s men’s Premier League Hockey outfit is a more “composed” team in 2014.
Crediting the work of coaches Andrew Reddan and Beth and Pete Shea with the turn around, Said believes a mentality shift across the entire Wanderers squad has turned one of the more fiery teams in the competition into a steadfast group.
But that composure will be tested infinitely today when Wanderers host bitter rivals Bathurst Souths at the Orange Hockey Complex.
“They do carry on,” the Wanderers skipper said of Souths, with the two clubs sharing a mixed history dotted with brutal contests dating back to the Orange team’s days as the Bloomfield Reds.
“They’ve got a few players in their side that like to give you a bit of a shot to see if you react.”
The difference this year?
That reaction won’t be what Souths are looking for.
“I think it’s just our mentality this year,” Said continued.
“Last year and the year before, we got caught up in the crap in the game too much. We’re a more controlled side now. Our composure is better when we’re in those scenarios. I guess we’re learning to cope better.”
Wanderers have enjoyed a promising opening month of the 2014 season, with a win, a draw and two losses on the board from four rounds.
The 7-3 mauling of Zig Zag in round two was as impressive a showing as any men’s side in Orange has dished up since Wanderers formed in 2012.
But with a new structure being implemented and players taking the field in new positions, Said is fully aware it’ll take time for the Orange club to click into top gear this season.
Competition for places, however, is ensuring that process happens swiftly.
“Everyone is keen,” he said.
“The juniors coming through the ranks, it’s putting plenty of pressure on the boys already in the side. If you have an off day or miss training, there’s a young kid there ready to take your place. It’s making everyone play well.”
Wanderers clash with Souths from 3.55pm today in Orange.
In other men’s PLH matches this weekend, Bathurst St Pat’s travel to Lithgow to face Panthers and Parkes host Lithgow Zig Zag.