Cronje to earn 100th cap

2012-07-06 11:30

Dublin - Having made his debut in February 2004, defender Andrew Cronje is set to earn his 100th cap for the SA men's hockey team when he takes to the field against India in Santander, Spain, on Sunday.

Cronje, however, will only be celebrating from within, preferring the attention to be focussed on the team, rather than himself.

"There is no doubt, achieving the 100 cap milestone is amazing," Cronje said on Friday.

"I never dreamt that I would actually be able to do this but now that I find myself in a position to do this, it is extremely special.

"There will definitely be a quiet celebration inside, but ultimately the focus of this team is togetherness, moving toward a common goal."

Cronje has established himself as one of the national team's most dominant defenders and is characteristic of a true team player, working tirelessly to ensure the benefit of the squad and never backing down from challenges.

The defender said he was honoured to have represented his country for the past eight years and believed he had grown as a player, having come through the ranks to where he finds himself now - a senior figure in a side that hopes to defy the odds when they take on the world's best at the London Olympic Games.

"As a player, you have different focusses as you move within your international career," Cronje said.

"In the beginning it's the celebration of actually playing in all the matches.

"I would love someone to be able to see the differences in my game over time.

"Obviously a lot of the players in the setup now would not have seen me when I started out, but I'd like to know that they see a maturity and a consistency in my performances."

Cronje admitted that, having been a leader all through his sporting career, he relished the opportunity to guide the younger players in the squad, helping them prepare for the challenge of the Olympics, while leading from the front on the field.

"I would like to think that it's the type of value I can add to the team by being a leader," he said.

"I do enjoy being a leader. Its always nice to have that responsibility, but first and foremost I also enjoy the challenges that oppose it.

"In order to be a leader you have to get a number of things right.

"I would like to think that I've got that right most of the time, but in this team, we've got a very strong leadership group in terms of Ozzie [captain Austin Smith] and Wade Paton, our vice-captain."

After running out against Canada in his international debut back in 2004, Cronje now has his sights firmly set on the London Olympics later this month.

He was confident that he would be fully prepared when the team started their campaign against world number one Australia.

"For me personally, I know exactly the areas I need to do better in, compared to the last Olympics," Cronje said.

"The whole experience of an Olympic Games in China versus the Olympics in London is also going to be different.

"So yes, I am going to enjoy it, it's definitely a moment you work towards and you have to enjoy it.

"But from a focus point of view and performance point of view, there are a number of key areas that I need to get right as an individual which will ultimately benefit the team."