Ready to give the Aussies a rough time
Underwater hockey isn’t meant to be a contact sport.
But former Avondale College student and New Zealand women’s rep Stephanie O’Neale has seen her teammates suffer their fair share of injuries.
The Mt Albert resident, 20, will be on the lookout for fast-moving pucks and players swinging their sticks at the transtasman underwater hockey tournament in Melbourne this weekend.
“You get broken noses, jaws and can burst an eardrum.
“People say in the water everything must be really slow but it’s not.”
Winger Stephanie is constant- ly speeding up and down the pool trying to score goals and stop the opposition from doing the same.
She trains in and out of the pool for several hours a week.
Stephanie isn’t the only former Avondale College student attending the tournament with brother Michael, 18, and Alex SigalasBuchanan, 16, in the under-18 men’s team and Carly Black, 18, in the under-18 women’s team.
She and Michael have family history in the sport with both parents former New Zealand players, while Alex and Carly took up the sport at college.
While the women will go into the tournament as slight underdogs against the world champ Australians, the men have a his- tory of dominating their transtasman rivals.
New Zealand women’s coach Tristan Reynard says the teams will come up against sides that include players from around the world, which can be a huge challenge.
“They come down because they know this is where the competition is at.
He isn’t surprised many of New Zealand’s top players come from Auckland, with a strong schools programme at the likes of Avondale College, Mt Albert Grammar and Epsom Girls Grammar.
For more information on underwater hockey visit www.under waterhockeynz.com.