Preview: Great Britain vs Canada

Sam Ward celebrates for GB against Australia

With Great Britain’s men all set to kick off their World League Final campaign against Canada tomorrow, we take a look at the two sides ahead of their opening game in our exclusive preview.

Canada, also known as the Red Caribous are ranked 14th in the world and qualified for the finals by virtue of their fourth-placed finish at the World League Semi finals in Argentina.

Canada have long been a major force in Pan American hockey, having claimed a glittering collection of medals from the Pan Am Games and Pan Am Cup competitions. Their rivalry with Argentina is the stuff of legend, with the two nations contesting every major Pan Am final since 1975. The Red Caribous have won gold at the Pan American Games on four occasions, as well as winning Gold at the Pan American Cup in 2009. They have also competed at six Olympic Games, five World Cups and five Commonwealth Games to date.

Scott Tupper, Mark Pearson and Matthew Guest are star performers outfield while goalkeeper David Carter is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the finest shot stoppers on the planet.

The team is coached by Australian Anthony Farry who stepped up from Assistant Coach following Canada’s failure to qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Farry’s young side have made huge strides forward over the past 18 months, with a third place finish at the HWL Round 2 event in San Diego being followed by an impressive fourth place finish at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Argentina. With qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics already sealed thanks largely to their fantastic performances in the HWL Semi-Finals, Farry will be hoping his team continue their fine form by securing a podium finish in Raipur.

Captain Scott Tupper, who European fans may remember from his Euro Hockey League exploits with Racing Club de Bruxelles and Club an der Alster is one to watch out for. Canada’s captain and talisman is a rock solid defender who leads by example. Committed in the tackle and blessed with great vision, Tupper has a habit of controlling games from the back line and also getting on the score-sheet with crucial goals.

Great Britain, currently ranked fourth in the world have plenty to be excited about for this tournament. The two most prolific scorers in recent domestic hockey, Sam Ward and Alan Forsyth are ready to team up in competitive action for the first time. Whilst much has been made of the experienced players left at home by Bobby Crutchley, the side is not short on wise heads, with Dan Fox and Mikey Hoare, two defensive mainstays sharing almost 250 caps between them. Simon Mantell is closing in on his 200th international appearance, too. Scottish star Chris Grassick is also in the squad, hoping to bring his excellent club form into the international arena as he has done so many times for the Blue Sticks of Scotland.

Canada and Great Britain have not met since the Olympics in 2008, when they drew 1-1 in a pool game thanks to Matt Daly's equaliser three minutes from time. Assistant Coach Jon Bleby was in the side that day as were Simon Mantell and Canada captain Scott Tupper. Crutchley's men took on Canada at the 2014 Commonwealth Games whilst playing as England, running out 3-1 winners thanks to an Ashley Jackson double and one from Barry Middleton.

With both teams continuing their countdown to the 2016 Rio Olympics, the stage is set for a fast, furious competitive game. Tune in to BT Sport tomorrow at 9am for all the action live.

HWL fixtures

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