Surbiton Hockey Club’s dynamic duo of Sarah Haycroft and Georgie Twigg are in England colours this week with one thing on their collective mind – qualification for the 2014 Hockey World Cup.
England need to reach the last four of this coming week’s Investec World League semi-finals to guarantee a place in next year’s showpiece event, as well as a place in the World League finals in Argentina later this year.
There are two World League semi-final group tournaments, split between Rotterdam and London, with 16 teams vying for eight places in November’s final.
England face South Africa, Australia and Spain in their pool, oppositions that pose various issues for the Surbiton players.
Twigg who has 28 England caps to her name, said: “We are going into the World League semi-finals with quite a new team, but we have gelled well together and there is a really good atmosphere among the group.
“South Africa are playing well at the moment and they are almost unchanged from the Olympics, so it will be an interesting opener.
“We have played a couple of warm-up matches against Australia, and they were tough, and Spain did not qualify for the Olympics and so I would guess they have been training hard because they probably had their egos dented a little bit and are coming back fighting.
Ready for battle: Georgie Twigg, left, in action in a warm up match against Australia, who they face in the second pool match of the World Hockey League Picture: Ady Kerry
“We should get out of the pool phase, so the crunch game will be the quarter-final and, hopefully, a spot in the semi-final, which means a place in the World Cup.”
Haycroft is a relative newcomer to the squad with five caps to her name, but with her Surbiton team-mate by her side, the 24-year-old is in confident mood.
“There were a few of us who went to South Africa for the Investec Challenge Cup in February, which is where we got our first cap, but this will be our first major world tournament,” she said.
“We’ve had practice matches against New Zealand and Australia, where things have gone well so I am feeling confident and raring to go.
“Playing in a similar position to Georgie means that I have learnt a lot from her. “She did so well in the Olympics and having someone of that calibre around you at club level is really helpful.”
England face South Africa tomorrow, Australia on Sunday and Spain on Tuesday – tickets are still available at englandhockey.co.uk