Three junior hockey stars have been selected to represent NSW at the Australian indoor hockey titles in Goulburn in January.
Samuel Wright-Smith has been selected for the under 15 boys team while Neive Campbell and Claire Smallhorn have been selected in the under 15 girls team.
Wright-Smith’s Wests Illawarra coach David Johnston categorised the 14-year-old as a dedicated individual and a tough, physical defender.
“Sam is a very nice kid, he’s got his head screwed on and he trains a lot.” Johnston said. “His family lives down past Nowra, so he has to do a lot of extra training on his own. He fits in very well in our club side, he’s very motivated to win and he’s got a high skill level.”
“He’s best at the right back, he’s very strong, he’s very nuggety, he’s got lots of strength compared to a lot of other guys and he uses that strength effectively.”
Wright-Smith is hoping to follow in the footsteps of fellow Illawarra hockey players and Australian representatives Blake Glovers and Flynn Ogilvie.
“He’s a kid that is self motivated and he looks up to Blake Govers and Flynn Ogilvie. He can see the path that they took, he knows the path and he’s in the NSW elite athlete system. If he keeps training and improving, he’s got great chances of playing for Australia.”
Like Wright-Smith, both Campbell and Smallhorn play a key defensive role for their teams and coach Dave Rieck believes that they are deserving of their selection.
“They’re both good defensive players, with a good read of the game and a good ability to set up the team’s attack.” Rieck said.
“Neive was our captain and Claire has been captain in the past. They’re both good leaders and we’re able to organise and structure the team around their play.”
Like Wright-Smith, Rieck feels that Campbell and Smallhorn have the talent to follow in the footsteps of the region’s best players if they continue to train and play hard.
“They’ve got the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of other Illawarra players that have gone far, they just have to work hard at it.”