Great Britain ready for World League Final

Dan Fox will captain Great Britain at the World League Final. Credit Ravi Ghowry

This weekend, Great Britain start their FIH World League Final campaign with their opening pool game against Canada.
With world Champions Australia and old foes Belgium lying in wait in the other two pool games and the other group consisting of the likes of the Netherlands, Germany, Argentina and host nation India it promises to be a high quality and difficult tournament. How are Bobby Crutchley’s side looking ahead of their opening game?

Following their fourth place finish at the London 2012 Olympics, Great Britain have set their sights firmly on winning a medal at Rio 2016. Looking at their recent history, you certainly would not bet against them. There has been a steady improvement since their disappointing ninth place finish at the Athens 2004 Games, with the team taking fifth at Beijing 2008 before losing the Bronze medal match at London 2012 against Australia. The team coached by ex-England & GB striker Bobby Crutchley sealed tickets to both Rio and Raipur with their third place finish at the FINTRO HWL Semi-Final in Antwerp thanks to a 5-1 win over India.

Coach Crutchley has made eight changes to the group that competed in Antwerp with Captain Barry Middleton, a veteran of 360 international appearances and all-time leading scorer Ashley Jackson being the most eye-catching of those missing. That is not to say there isn’t quality or experience in the ranks still: 32-year-old defender Dan Fox will captain the team in Middleton’s absence, with plenty of additional experience being provided by the likes of attack-minded trio Harry Martin, Simon Mantell and Nick Catlin.

Versatile, highly-rated youngster Ian Sloan comes into the squad alongside goalkeeper Harry Gibson, with both players featuring in their first competitive senior tournament for Great Britain. Scotland striker Alan Forsyth – who scored on his Great Britain debut against Argentina in October – is included for his first competition with the squad, being joined by fellow Scotland player Chris Grassick. With one eye on Rio next year, many of these players will surely be hoping to use the tournament in Raipur to push themselves into Crutchley’s thoughts ahead of selection for the Olympics. What better place to do that than against the best in the world?

Captain Dan Fox: “Whenever we go to these tournaments we always want to win a medal and that’s no different here. I think the most important thing is that we do ourselves justice. This group has a lot to offer and the players going to India have plenty to prove. It’s a massive tournament in an Olympic year and everyone will want to play well, both for a medal and to force themselves into the reckoning for the Olympic squad.”

One to watch: Nick Catlin. A hugely talented, industrious midfielder with extraordinary fitness levels. Nick Catlin is renowned for his tireless running and exceptional stick skills, attributes which have made him one of the most highly rated players in the Great Britain set-up. The 26-year-old currently has 48 Great Britain caps to his name and should reach his half-century against Australia in the second pool match.

The FIH have announced the exciting news that BT Sport have secured the rights to all the matches at the World League Finals, meaning fans of hockey can watch every moment of the tournament live and uninterrupted! For all the details of this fantastic news, click here.