Future of English hockey excites Ansley and Hinch

England celebrate reaching 2017 HWL Final
Giselle Ansley and Maddie Hinch believe English hockey has a very exciting future following a youthful squad selection for this month’s Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final.

Head coach Danny Kerry has made four changes from this summer’s EuroHockey Championships team, handing University of Birmingham duo Erica Sanders and Livy Paige and Wimbledon’s Suzy Petty their first chance to compete in an international competition in New Zealand.

Furthermore it will only be the second major event for Grace Balsdon – who has also been called up - and Ellie Rayer while Emily Defroand, Hannah Martin, Amy Tennant and Anna Toman have all appeared less than 20 times for England.

But Surbiton defender Ansley believes each player has more than merited their place in the squad thanks to strong performances for their clubs and in training and cannot wait to see what they can offer.

“It is amazing. It shows the strength of our squad that we have people constantly pushing at the door and new players coming in and getting their chance and opportunity,” she said. 

“We have had a really, really strong couple of weeks of training and they have really made a case for their selection and I am really, really pleased for them.”

Having won bronze medals at both the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Finals and the Euros in The Netherlands, the team is looking to go even further this time out in New Zealand to end an already successful year in the best possible fashion.

It will be a challenge for both the experienced and newer members of the team though as they face tough competition in their group from China, Germany and world number three outfit Argentina.

However, the opportunity to play the world's top teams is something Hinch is thoroughly relishing and she believes that, whatever happens, it will help shape the team as they continue their cycle towards Tokyo 2020.

“We are very excited for this one. For one we are going to travel to New Zealand - what a fantastic place to play - and we are going to be up against the best sides in the world,” the European and Olympic champion enthused.

“There will be no easy game, we are going to have to bring our best to the tournament and we will see how we stack up against the best sides in the world.

“We have got some really exciting talent in this new looking squad and it will be good for those guys to go out, get some experience, show what they are all about and establish themselves in this group. 

“I think as a whole we are in a really good place and I am excited to see how we get on over there.”

The tournament will also be the perfect proving ground for the players ahead of the 2018 Vitality Women’s Hockey World Cup which, despite still being several months away, Ansley says is already a key focus point for her and her team-mates.

The 25-year-old explained: “Of course you want to go out to a tournament and win it but it is about building and we are ahead to next summer and the really big task of the World Cup.

“Everything at the moment is all around building performances and building confidence and getting to know each other really well. 

“Obviously we are only a year into our programme building from Rio so it is a really exciting time for us. It will be a fantastic tournament.”

Squad: Alex Danson (C), Giselle Ansley, Grace Balsdon, Sophie Bray, Emily Defroand, Sarah Haycroft, Maddie Hinch, Hannah Martin, Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley, Olivia Paige, Hollie Pearne-Webb, Suzy Petty, Ellie Rayer, Erica Sanders, Amy Tennant, Anna Toman, Laura Unsworth

Fixtures (all games on BT Sport):
Friday 17 November - Germany 11pm (GMT)
Sunday 19 November - Argentina 7am (GMT)
Tuesday 21 November - China 7am (GMT)
Wednesday 22 November/Thursday 23 November - Quarter-Final
Friday 24 November/Saturday 25 November - Semi-Final
Sunday 26 November - Final