NSW Pride roaring into the finals this weekend

Defending champions NSW Pride Women and Men’s teams are ready to unleash the roar ahead of their semi final match ups this Saturday at the National Hockey Centre, Canberra.

NSW Pride’s Men kick off Pride’s final series campaign at 12:30pm when they take on Tassie Tigers, the only team to have taken any points from the Pride men this season with a round 5 draw, that Pride won on shoot out.

As they prepare to play for a third consecutive Hockey One league title, Pride men’s team have named a 17-person squad with the unexpected inclusion of former Kookaburra and Pride’s co-captains Tom Craig’s older brother Ben Craig who is set to make his debut for Pride this final series.

Ben has been included in the increased squad of 17 (usually 15) due to 5 squad members unavailable due to Burra selection and 2 additional players being unavailable for matches over the weekend.

Speaking about his upcoming debut and playing with his younger brother Tom, Ben said “I cannot wait. Playing two more hockey games, doing it with my brother and some of my oldest mates, and debuting for this great franchise all at the same time – I definitely didn’t see this coming.

Tom and I both watched the documentary about the Kelce brothers this year, it made us both realise how lucky we have been to play sport together at the top level. The thing is that it can be hard to realise how fortunate you are until the moments have passed. To be able to get two more games together – especially with the whole family there, including my newborn baby daughter will make for lifelong memories.”

Tom Craig said he is looking forward to this unexpected opportunity to play with his brother again
“ I am super excited obviously, any opportunity to play with Ben is an awesome experience and I really cherish it. It’s bound to be a great weekend.”

Following the Pride v Tigers clash NSW Pride women’s team will be taking on home crowd favourite Canberra Chill at 2:30pm.

NSW Pride are out to prove a point and defend their title following a season of ups and downs with injuries and player availability. Alice Arnott said “Hockey One has been great this season. Our year has been a bit up and down we have had a few injuries and players out for various reasons, so we haven’t been able to have a consistent team each week, but we have been putting on some good performances. Canberra are a very good and in Canberra as well, so they are ready to put up a pretty big fight”.

Pride women’s team welcome back Emma Spinks into their playing team after being out for most of the season after she sustained a hand injury earlier in the season. Spinks underwent surgery 4 weeks ago, and since then has undergone extensive rehabilitation to now be in a position to be match fit and ready to join the teams fight for the 2023 title.

Earlier in the season, Pride’s co-captain Maddi Smith said “We have a lot to prove winning last season, especially with some people saying we didn’t deserve it. We have had a bit of a rough start with injuries and not being able to train with certain players at times, but we want to enjoy our hockey and put out creative flowing hockey. I really want this season to play with courage and confidence”. Chill and Pride last played against each other in round 4 where the Pride women’s team went down by 3 goals in Canberra, so the team are hungry to turn the tables and secure the win on Saturday and book themselves a place in Sunday’s grand final.

Speaking with ABC News Breakfast this morning Greta Hayes said about the final “We are taking a bit of experience from last year into this years season however, in saying that we have a fairly different line up this weekend with a few girls out for Junior World Cup. We are definitely building this year, we have got some younger players who have come through the ranks in Hockey NSW and they have got some games under their sleeves throughout the season, so we are really excited to get out there tomorrow and take on Canberra”.

You can watch all matches of the JDH Hockey One league final series live and free on 7plus or click here to secure your tickets to come and watch all the finals action live in Canberra.