THE South African national polocrosse team will get the chance to prove that winning the sport’s World Cup in 2011 was no fluke when they face former world champions Australia in Friday’s semi-final at Shongweni.
Proteas coach Bruce Maclarty, an ex-national team player himself, felt they had a good chance of beating the Aussies, who, he said, regarded themselves as the undisputed polocrosse champions, having won the World Cup in 2003 and 2007.
“There’s a massive rivalry between us,” Maclarty told The Witness yesterday.
“They’d won the World Cup twice and they felt they were the undisputed champions of the world, and us beating them in the semi-final in 2011 was a big shock around the world,” Maclarty said.
“Anything can happen in the semi-final. It’s two quality teams coming together and the knockout stages are ruthless.”
Planning for the competition started as soon as the Proteas won the last World Cup in England where they beat the competition’s surprise package Zimbabwe in the final.
“We started planning then, but we’ve been together as a team since August,” he said.
As the sport of polocrosse is still amateur, the team can only get together once a month, but it also helped that the majority of the players are based in KwaZulu-Natal.
“All the players are great friends and everyone gets along,” said Maclarty, adding that skipper Gavin Cocker, at 43, was the team’s oldest player while 18-year-old Caley Higgs was the youngest.
Maclarty added that they played in front of a crowd of 3 000 last weekend, and he was hoping to see a similar number of people in their crucial encounter against the Australians.
The other semi-final will feature the United Kingdom and surprise package Zambia.
Friday July 10
08h30 United States of America vs Zimbabwe
10h30 New Zealand vs Ireland
12h30 South Africa vs Australia
14h30 Zambia vs United Kingdom
Saturday July 11
10h00 Play for 7th and 8th place
14h00 Play for 5th and 6th place
Sunday 12th July
10h00 Play for 3rd and 4th place