Rhett Halkett has been a friend of All Things Jabu for a while and has now featured for South Africa 118 times including in the Commonwealth Games, the Olympic Games and the FIH Hockey World Cup. Next up for the SA Hockey Men and Rhett is the FIH World League, the first FIH tournament for SA’s men since the Champions Challenge in 2011. We had a chat with Rhett to gauge how the team are feeling.
Jabu: How are you feeling about the upcoming World League tournament?
Rhett: I am very excited! It is not often we get the opportunity to play in an FIH event in our home country.
Jabu: Is playing in Cape Town at Hartleyvale the best for the South African squad?
Rhett: There is an ongoing debate within our team as to whether Durban, Johannesburg or Cape Town bring in the biggest crowds but for me, there is something special about playing in my home province.
Jabu: Of the newer caps (Bell, Horne and Boucher), who is impressing you the most?
Rhett: All of them have been impressive, they are maturing and improving with every day of national training. Dan SIbbald and Dan Bell are only 20 years old. Keenan and Boucher are only a few years older. This is fantastic for the future of SA hockey.
Jabu: With Fabian now well entrenched in the role, are the guys now settled with Fabian?
Rhett: Fabian established his style of coaching and play early. Through our time together with various experimental attacking and defensive systems we are now learning which patterns of play suit our character best. This event will be a perfect platform to display this style of play.
Jabu: Jonty Robinson is out and Lloyd Norris-Jones is missing, how massive is this for South Africa?
Rhett: It is unfortunate to be missing Jonty and Lloyd for this event. Together they amass over 200 international games of experience and provide a unique attacking flair to our arsenal. However, it does provide a wonderful opportunity for the next generation to showcase their ability.
Rhett: On the contrary, attending those events serves as bigger motivation to qualify and compete in them again. The World League is an opportunity for us to do exactly that. Therefore, the vibe may be different to a major event but it will be firing as we are aiming to win this event.
Jabu: Is there any opponent in the World League that you are specifically looking forward to meeting?
Rhett: I have never played against France, Switzerland, Belarus or Azerbaijan before so that is something to look forward to.
Jabu: How big a lift is it to have Austin, Tim and Rassie back from the Hockey India League?
Rhett: It has been a perfectly timed lift for the group as we have endured a rather gruelling training and selection phase. Austin, Tim and Erasmus provide a wealth of international hockey experience and positive energy to the group. Their level of skill, intensity and professionalism on the pitch increases our teams level of performance. This is crucial for the team’s success.
Jabu: And how much are the boys backing the Proteas right now?
Rhett: There have been a few early starts to our day which coincides perfectly to the Cricket World Cup. The Proteas appear to be in a great mental space at the moment. I am sure I speak on behalf of the team when wishing the Proteas every inch of success in Australia/New Zealand.
Make sure you follow the FIH World League as South Africa take the first step to try and qualify for the Olympic Games in 2016. Also if you are in Cape Town make sure you get down to Hartleyvale to catch the action.