24 July 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Hockey: GB face stern test in Argentina

December 4, 2009

International centurion Crista Cullen will return to the GB fold to face the world number two side Argentina in a five game test series from the 12th December.

Cullen had taken a year out after helping GB to a sixth-placed finish in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

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The series will also see Helen Richardson and Susie Gilbert feature after the duo were shortlisted for World Player of the Year and World Young Player of the Year respectively by the International Hockey Federation.

Head Coach Danny Kerry said: “This is a good opportunity for us on a number of levels.

“It is the earliest a GB squad has ever assembled for such a test series during an Olympic cycle and we look forward to developing a number of parts of our game playing against the World’s current number two side.”

In October the squad began its Centralised Training Programme in preparation for London 2012, with the coaches and athletes benefitting from more contact time.

Ranked seventh in the world, the squad has been training on a weekly basis at Bisham Abbey and Kerry admitted there are already promising signs in the programme’s introduction and will be looking to put these into practice in Salta.

He added: “Playing in Argentina is one of the most enjoyable experiences of an international career.

The crowds are several thousand in number, with an amazing carnival atmosphere and I’m certain the players will benefit immensely from the occasion.”

Kerry will take eight debutants in the 18-athlete squad, including Bowdon Hightown goalkeeper Kirsty Mackay, who is yet to receive international honours with England.

The remaining seven are Gemma Darrington, Katie Long, Hannah Macleod, Laura Unsworth (all Leicester), Reading’s Emily Maguire, Natalie Seymour of Canterbury and Slough’s Nicola White.

“We welcome back the presence of Crista Cullen while for a number of the younger members of the squad, such as Emily Maguire, the series will offer them further exposure to top flight hockey and a first taste of the technical skills of ‘Las Leonas’.”

It should prove a stern test for the visitors, with Argentina boasting current World Hockey Player of the Year, Luciana Aymar. The attacker has won the award a record five times, firstly in 2001 and subsequently in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

However, GB can take heart from their previous encounter, a creditable 2-2 draw in Beijing after being two goals down at half time.

Running from 12-18 December, the women’s series is being held to coincide with the BDO Champion’s Challenge I, an International Hockey Federation event for the men’s teams ranked between 7th and 15th in the world.

Squad in full:

Crista Cullen (Leicester), Alex Danson (Reading), Gemma Darrington (Leicester), Jo Ellis (Reading), Susie Gilbert (University of Birmingham), Rebecca Herbert (Leicester), Katie Long (Leicester), Kirsty Mackay (Bowdon Hightown), Hannah Macleod (Leicester), Emily Maguire (Reading), Helen Richardson (Reading), Chloe Rogers (Leicester), Natalie Seymour (Canterbury), Laura Unsworth (Leicester), Abi Walker (Canterbury), Kate Walsh (Reading), Sally Walton (Bowdon Hightown), Nicola White (Slough).

Nick Grounds, Sportsister
The Women’s Sport Magazine

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