There was a seismic shift in the balance of power of Hamilton hockey last year. St. Paul's Collegiate were the Rankin Cup champions while Hamilton Boys' High School, winners the last two years previously, finished in 13th place.
Hamilton player Brad Coxon attempts to explain what changed.
"We lost a lot of key players and struggled to recover from that. Last year was a rebuilding year, but we didn't perform as well as we would have liked. We learned a lot though and will be better for it."
At the recent ANZAC hockey festival at St. Paul's Collegiate there was already evidence Hamilton is better for their 2016 adversity. Of the 14 teams that competed in the pre-season tourney, Hamilton was the only side to win all five games.
Three of the four Rankin Cup semi-finalists were present, including runners up Wairarapa College who Hamilton beat 4-1 in their opening game.
Coxon broke a stalemate ten minutes into the second-half and added another goal in the resounding triumph.
"They didn't seem as organised as the Auckland teams. Their attack was a lot more instinctive and when we pressured them we got on top with some good hockey." Coxon says.
Hamilton thumped King's College 5-0, but St. Kentigern College proved to be a tough Auckland opponent.
"We started real slow and fell behind a goal. It was a close game, but we came back late and won 2-1. Matt Deller and Cameron Steffot got the goals. St. Kent's were a structured team, they will be tough to beat." Coxon believes.
Wellington College is another side Coxon has earmarked for greater things.
"We beat Wellington 2-0, but they have only lost one player from last year and were quite tough. I expect they will be even better by the end of the season."
Coxon is in his second year in the First XI. He plays either inner or centre midfield.
He is been mentored by Hamilton coaches Steve Smith and Richard Petherick, who played 98 tests for the Black Sticks.
In the summer Coxon plays premier tennis.
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