This year the South East region has had a shake up with the loss of all the London Universities, but with the introduction of the two Oxford teams. Could Sussex Mohawks’ reign as the top South East team be over?
Starting with the current South East champions, Mohawks have a very different looking squad from 12 months ago, with the loss of 15 players. However within the new look Mohawks team, the ever-present John ‘Shimmy’ Maule will be providing the experience that may be vital in keeping this young team on top.
Mohawks will be looking to get the better of their city rivals Panthers once again but will this young squad be able to compete with the vastly more experienced Oxford team for the title?
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The main threat to the continued Sussex dominance is the supremely confident Oxford team. Their aim is to win the region, and are happy to be out of what they describe as a heavily stacked midlands region into one which they see posing few problems on their march to nationals. After the results of SICKO they have called out Mohawks to produce an improved performance, and to give them a challenge for the title.
Oxford have an embarrassment of experience on offer this year with Jonathon Saunders (GB U23 mixed), captain Rob Sturrock (DED), and Hugo Grimmett, in his 8thyear of university, amongst a long list of talent that they boast. With the loss of only two players from last year’s roster I feel this is the team to beat this weekend.
The only other team aiming for division one is Surrey, who welcome back a number of first team players from placements to enhance their “athletic and uniform” squad. They will be looking to hold off challenges from Brighton, Sublime and Kent to really push on and challenge Mohawks and Oxford for the division one spots. Players to look out for are Captain Neil Swan and Sam Fowler.
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Kent are looking to perform strongly across all disciplines indoors this season. With the loss of a few experienced players from the 1st team last year, it will be up to the youngsters to step up and push on the team in their aim to qualify. Kent are backing Jonathon Allenby to dominate in the air, and have called out Oxford’s Harry Mason in particular as an important match up.
Brighton are another team that have lost a number of key players from last season. However a strong recruitment drive has swelled the number of players this season, and Panthers will be looking to secure one of the spots for nationals. Panthers see Mohawks and Sublime as their main rivals, and could be battling it out in the game to go with Portsmouth at the end of the weekend.
Portsmouth Sublime will be looking to rebuild after failing to qualify for outdoor Nationals last year, Captain Will Rowledge (GB U20s) say the key players for the first team are Will Rowledge, Will Rowledge and Will Rowledge. After very close matches at the last two indoor regionals, Sublime see Kent as their main rivals, and will looking to get the better of them in their bid to reach nationals.
Holloway comes into the tournament looking to develop their team and maybe make a surprise push for qualification. Josh Griggs has been highlighted as a key player this season and will be looking to lead from the front as captain. Holloway also sees Kent as their main rivals and is looking forward to an intense match if seedings allow it.
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The other new boys in the South East, Oxford Brookes are looking to use this season to build a solid foundation from which to kick on in the years to come. Nicholas Sheum is the player to watch, described as a superstar cutter who lays out like a hero.
Finally, Chichester – who have lost their two most recognisable players in Alex Rawlinson and Matt Morecraft – are aiming high and hoping to sneak a spot for nationals. Captain Dan Lewis will be leading the inexperienced squad who are hoping to overcome Surrey, Kent and Oxford, whilst dismissing the chances of local rivals Sublime.
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The majority of teams seem to be in agreement that Sussex Mohawks and Oxford will take the two division one spots, with most backing the Sussex side to take the title. Around 70% of teams are expecting Surrey, Brighton and Sublime to take the remaining three spots for division two.
As regional co-ordinator my predictions are: