“It was a real surprise to make it. I’m not exactly sure what I’m in for, but my goal is to represent New Zealand one day,” Harry Lawson states when asked about being selected in the 34-man Black Sticks squad which will undergo six days of extensive training in Auckland from December 5-10.
Lawson from Lindisfarne College in Hastings is one of three schoolboys picked alongside Malachi Buschel from King’s High School in Dunedin and Connor Greentree from Kristin School in Auckland.
Lindisfarne are hardly world beaters. They finished 25th at Nationals, beating Napier Boys’ High School 4-2 to retain their place at Rankin Cup in 2018.
Lawson’s pedigree has never been in doubt. He played 99 games for his First XI and was captain in 2017. A Central Region under-21 representative when he was 16, Lawson was named Hawke’s Bay Secondary School hockey player of the year in 2016, a title he is likely to reclaim this year. Being the most accomplished player in his team has been both a blessing and a curse.
“Sometimes it’s annoying when your teammates aren’t as serious as you, but I enjoy the challenge of helping younger players get better. It’s hard to get regularly tough competition in a small region like Hawke’s Bay, but when we compete against the likes of Auckland, I get a lot of defensive work against the better teams.” Lawson explains.
Lawson is noted for his resolute defense, but doesn’t see himself exclusively in that capacity.
“I play defense, but have moved into the midfield a bit recently. I would like to think I am a sounder tackler who isn’t afraid to take calculated risks. I enjoy taking players on if the chance arises and it’s good for the team.” Lawson elaborates.
A hockey player since he was 4, Lawson, is also a handy cricketer reaching 2nd XI level at Lindisfarne, unable to commit to the First’s due to hockey commitments.
Lawson has been a Hawke’s Bay age group hockey rep from under-13 Hatch Cup level to under-18s, Lawson believes the biggest rep breakthrough he had was in the Central Region under-21 team which finished fifth in their national competition last year.
“That was a real eye opener playing as a 16 year old, but I did pretty well and it’s motivated me to work harder.” Lawson reveals.
In 2018, Lawson intends to either reside in Auckland or Wellington and undertake a building apprenticeship. His parents are farmers.
Three current school players and a 2016 Rankin Cup winner have been selected in a Black Sticks hockey squad today.
The three current school players in the 24-strong squad are midfielder Malachi Buschel from King’s High School in Dunedin, Connor Greentree from Kristin School in North Harbour and Harry Lawson from Lindisfarne College in Hawke’s Bay.
The fourth teenager is Reuben Andrews who won the Rankin Cup with St Paul’s Collegiate last year (pictured above).
The purpose of the camp is to assess talented players who stood out this year at the Vantage Under 18s, Vantage Under 21s, Ford National Hockey League and Australian Hockey League tournaments.
Athletes will be put through an extensive six days of hockey, physical, psychological and leadership challenges from 5-10 December.
Performances at the camp in early December in Auckland will help decide final selections of the 2018 National and Development squads.
Not all 2017 National Squad members will take part in the camp with several being moved immediately onto their physical programme following an intense 12 months of international and European club commitments.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to bring players who have come through our talent system into the Vantage Black Sticks environment and see how they stack up,” Smith said.
“You look at the likes of Hayden Phillips, who came into the national programme as a 17-year-old and ended up earning a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
“We have a lot of talented athletes around the country so the sooner we can expose them to top level hockey and everything that comes with that the better.”
The full squad is:
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