The immediate challenge for any side in the Hockey India League is to ensure that the Indian and foreign players, playing different styles of hockey, jell well and perform as a team.

Jaypee Punjab Warriors, however, has fewer worries. The team, coached by Australian Barry Dancer, and boasting six Aussie players — the most hired by any side from that country — is clear about its plans.

“We wanted to have an Australian, especially Dancer, as the coach. He is an experienced coach. Besides, assistant coach Mohammad Riaz (who has worked with National chief coach Michael Nobbs) knows about the current Indian players.

“It is a good team and it has the potential to win,” said the Warriors’ advisor and member of the 1980 Olympic gold medal-winning team, Zafar Iqbal, on the occasion of the team’s first interaction with mediapersons at the National Stadium here on Saturday.

Jagbir Singh, who will also assist Dancer, explained the team’s strategy of relying on the Australians.

“We have fewer problems than other teams. India and Australia play a similar type of hockey and (the National side’s) head coach is an Australian.

“So, it was easier to work with an Australian coach. Dancer has tried to combine the players well. Our attacking style is similar, while there are some changes in the defence,” said Jagbir.

Star Australian forward Jamie Dwyer, who will captain the side, said the players were trying to overcome the initial challenges.

“We are trying to jell together, both on and off the field. On the field, we are trying to set the combinations right. We are lucky to have a great bunch of players.”

Christened ‘Jamie Singh’ by teammates during Warriors’ practice sessions in Jalandhar, Dwyer said the players, hailing from different cultures, were trying to get used to each other.

“We (the foreigners) are trying to learn a little bit of Hindi and they (Indians) are trying to learn a little bit of English.”

Striker S.V. Sunil, the other marquee player in the side, was looking forward to the new experience.

“I share a good understanding with Dwyer. I am excited at the prospect of playing with the likes of Rob Hammond and Simon Orchad.

“It has become possible due to the HIL,” said Sunil, who expressed hope that he would get the Services Sports Control Board clearance for the event by Monday.

Dancer expressed his satisfaction with the progress shown by the team, which has one player each from Spain, Argentina, the Netherlands and Pakistan.

“We had a good week of practice. We have some of the very exciting young Indian players and the team is lucky to have the great Jamie Dwyer in the mix. We look forward to the next three weeks,” said Dancer.


  • Jamie Dwyer, who will captain the side, says the players are trying to overcome the initial challenges


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