Former New Zealand forward Phillip Ross Burrows and India’s gifted midfielder Gurbaj Singh will provide pivotal support to Sapura Hockey Club in the TNBMHL 2016 Premier League.
Burrows and Gurbaj are among three foreign players signed by Sapura for the new season. The other is Australian Oscar William Wookey.
Sapura will also be supported by seven national players who went on a playing tour of Japan, New Zealand and Australia and also featured in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April. They are goalkeeper Mohammad Hairi Abdul Rahman, Faiz Helmi Jali, Norsyafiq Sumantri, Joel Van Huizen, Marhan Jalil, Firhan Ashari and Mohamad Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin.
Louis Gregory, the Sapura team manager said: “I believe we are looking much better that before with Burrows and Gurbaj giving strong support to seven national players in the side. It is going to be an exciting season for us and we are looking forward to the League.”
He added that Sapura, who last won the Premier Division of the MHL in 2004 and 2005, have set a target of winning at least one title this season.
Burrows earned his first cap for Black Sticks in 2000. The striker was named 2003 New Zealand Player of the Year and has 343 international caps for New Zealand having competed in three Summer Olympic Games – 2004 (Athens), 2008 (Beijing) and 2012 (London).
The 36-year-old season international also featured in the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cup for New Zealand and four Commonwealth Games.
Gurbaj have had his nine-month ban lifted by Hockey India in May this year following a court order. The 27-year-old was embroiled in an ‘internal matter” with the guardians of Indian hockey.
The Indian, who made his debut in 2006 at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar and also competed in the 2012 London Olympics, will arrive on 10 August – nine days before the start of the Premier League.
“Wookey is a drag flick specialist and a very smart player on the pitch. With all three on board it gives us confidence in taking on our opposition,” said Gregory, adding that both Burrows and Wookey are expected to join the team in Kuala Lumpur after the completion of a regional tournament in Australia.
A total of 23 foreign players have confirmed participation in the Malaysian Hockey League with Penang-based Nurinsafi signing Pakistanis Abdul Asim Khan, Mohamed Imran and Khasif Ali in Division One of the League.
Tenaga Nasional Berhad, however, will be powered by an all-Malaysian side that includes veteran national goalkeeper S. Kumar.
Double champions Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) have registered six foreign players – Koreans Kim Ki Hoon, Jang Jong Hyun, Kim Jung Hoo, Spaniards Pablo Javier Trevisan and Nicolas Enrique Della Torre, and Pakistan’s Muhammad Irfan,
Six-time Malaysian Hockey League champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club have in their stable Pakistanis Ali Shan, Khan Abdul Haseem, Muhammad Umar Bhutta, Spaniard Pedro Lopez- Alonso, Dutchman Jelte Van Gennip and Korean Hyun Woo Nam.
Arul Selvaraj’s Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) has also thrown in the challenge with a band of foreign legion players in the form of Robert Luke Madeley, Daragh James Walsh, Adrian Coster, Germany’s Patrick Neil Schultz and Pakistani Muhammad Toseeq Arshad.
Maybank, coached by former international Shaiful Azli Abdul Rahman, will introduce Spain’s Juan Valeriano and Ignacio Santiago.
The Division One and women’s League will start on 5 August while the Premier League Charity Shield match between Terengganu Hockey Team and Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club will be held on August 19 at the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.