By Quintin van Jaarsveld
Warren van der Merwe and Gareth Bishop have earned places in the South African Country Districts hockey team set to compete in the inter-provincial tournament in Pretoria from 29 August to 5 September.
The Port Shepstone Hockey Club duo were included in the national squad after playing starring roles for the KwaZulu-Natal Coastals team in the South African Country Districts tournament that culminated in Limpopo on Saturday.
Van der Merwe (pictured above) had a sublime tournament in which he caused nightmares on attack and averaged over a goal per game.
He was particularly lethal against the hosts, cutting their defence to shreds and scoring four goals in KwaZulu-Natal’s 7-1 Pool B win.
It was a dream comeback for the link/forward following a hamstring injury he sustained in a touch rugby tournament in November and will see him represent the national team for the second successive year.
“I’m extremely happy and super stoked to have made the side again,” Van der Merwe told eHowzit.
“It’s been something I have been working towards for a long time. I wasn’t in a good place mentally after my injury, so to overcome that and still have a good tour is great.
“I’d like to thank my family, girlfriend and Grays Hockey for the ongoing support. I’m looking forward to playing with GB [Bishop] in the SA Country Districts side – we work on the same wavelength.”
Bishop has been a mainstay in the South African Country Districts side in recent times and his play-making prowess at link/forward saw him being selected for the national side for the fifth year in a row.
“I’m very happy about making the side,” he told eHowzit. “It’s a great honour to represent the SA Country Districts side at the best tournament in the country.
“I always look forward to the challenge of stepping up to another level of play.”