Steady start to HIL for Smith and Rhinos

The South African hockey captain Austin Smith and his Indian Hockey League (HIL) team the Ranchi Rhinos has made a steady start to the league with a lost and victory in the first two games.

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The Ranchi Rhinos lost the first match 2-3 to Uttar Pradesh Wizards and followed that up with a victory over Delhi Wave Riders 1-0. Against the Wave Riders four South Africans were in action. Smith and Justin Reid-Ross for the Rhinos, while Lloyd Norris-Jones and Tim Drummond played for the Wave Riders.

“It’s fantastic to be back with the Ranchi Rhino family. I have seen a few of the Indian guys and some of the foreign players since we won the final in 2013 but for the majority it's been a year since we last saw each other. It's great to see how many of them have improved in such a short space of time. I'm really impressed!”

The Rhinos played without their German captain Moritz Fürste in the first two games due to other commitments. “I think we managed okay though. We played well in both games but just lacked the sharpness in the attacking circle to finish off some nice bits of build up play.”

Smith has been struggling with a foot injury, but he is not too worried.  “I’ve had and X-ray and MRI on it to try and find out what exactly is causing the problem. It seems it is only some minor swelling over the tendon, which will hopefully go down during our next few rest days.”

Smith’s next game is on Saturday 1 February against the Uttar Pradesh Wizards.

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