THE Servies Super 9s is back for a second season.
Hockey’s version of Twenty20 cricket, the Super 9s was devised as a faster and more exciting way to showcase the sport and was played last year in Armidale as a pre-season competition.
It proved a success and this year almost 60 players nominated to be involved.
“It’s really good to see it supported,” organiser Mark Low said.
“There were actually a lot of people who came to me and said ‘are we doing Super 9’s and when do we start’.”
They start tonight.
Games will be played each Friday night with the first clash at 7pm and the second at 8pm.
This year’s competition sees two new franchises come on board – New England Mutual and Hunts Carpets – to join Sportspower and Australian Business Apprenticeships Centre (ABAC).
It again attracted strong interest from players in Tamworth with more than 14 putting their names down to play.
That included top pick in the draft, Sam Lobsey.
Lobsey was incidentally number one on all four captains’ lists and was snapped up by Blair Chalmers for ABAC.
Again too, a lot of young players feature among the teams.
“Pretty much the only old blokes are the captains,” Low joked.
He, Chalmers, James Abbo and Andrew Byrne are the four skippers.
The first three were all part of the New England side that took out Division 2 at last weekend’s State Masters Indoor Championships.
The association took away men’s and women’s teams.
The women also won, claiming the Division 4 title.
Aside from the new franchises and new players, Low said there wouldn’t be any changes to the formula for the Super 9s. It worked last year.
“The idea of the Super 9s is to make it more attacking and score lots of goals,” he said.
He’s expecting that to be even more the case this year.
“We should pretty much hit the ground running this year,” he said.
“Last year it took a couple of games to get into the swing of things.”
Tim Hardy is one of the players backing up.
He was part of the inaugural competition-winning McDonald’s outfit last year and will play in a strong ABAC team this year.
“On paper it looks good with Sam Lobsey and Chris Massey and the Armidale guys,” Hardy said.
“It’s a young skillful side.
“But with 9s you never know.
“It’s who picks up the game patterns the quickest.”
He enjoyed playing in the competition last year.
“It’s such a different competition, so more open,” he said.
“It’s good for pre-season.”
It’s good to get the “running in the legs”, he said.
“The rules are a bit more relaxed which makes it quicker,” he said.
“There’s a lot more space and a lot more goals.”
New England Mutual and Hunt’s Carpets will start the competition off.
Sportspower: Mark Low, Dean Waters, Kris Fletcher, Bert Faint, Andrew Farmilo, Matt Hourigan, Sam Uphill, Jack Cooper, Jarad McKay, Peter Georkas, Chris Page, Dylan Yeomans.
New England Mutual: James Abbo, Josh Worpel, Issac Farmilo, Michael Young, Nathan McRae, Paul Butterworth, Jim O Brien, Ashlee Gasbarri, L.G Shanahan, Alex Hile, Cameron Cooper and Neil Clayton.
Hunts Carpets: Andrew Byrne, Ben Hanlan, Luke Uphill, Simon Massey, Matt Jackson, Antony Doolan, Sam Clarke, Phil Heagney, Michael Lush, Andrew Roberts, Alex Waters and Ken Whitty.
Australian Business Apprenticeships Centre: Blair Chalmers, Sam Lobsey, Sam Constance, Tim Hardy, Donovan Chalmers, Chris Massey, Issac Woodley, Ben Uphill, Darby Chalmers, Ehren Hazell, Justin Hickey and Will Brissett.