Surbiton Hockey Club Men’s 1sts team manager Matt Jones is confident his side can retain the Jaffa Super 6s trophy they won 12 months ago despite the loss of several internationals to Commonwealth Games preparation.
Surbiton return to the Finals Day on January 28 after beating Loughborough Students 7-4 to become the first team to secure qualification.
Finals Day will be held at the Copper Box, the venue for handball and modern pentathlon at London 2012, for the first time after moving from Wembley Arena.
Jones said: “It is without doubt probably the most electric event that England Hockey put on and if Wembley was anything to go by then the Copper Box should be a real thrill.
“It’s rare that non-professionals or athletes who haven’t necessarily made the Olympic grade get the opportunity in their sporting lifetime to be able to tread on such a famous surface as the Copper Box.
“Man-to-man they’re looking forward to competing there, they’ll be relishing the opportunity.”
With Surbiton much-changed due to their missing internationals, Jones believes the pre-tournament favourites to be semi-final opponents East Grinstead and fellow south west London side Wimbledon, who were undefeated in pool play and face Team Bath in their semi-final.
He said: “I think the pressure is very much on them – East Grinstead’s performances at the last league weekend demonstrated that they are a force to be reckoned with.
“With Wimbledon, despite it being their first showing at this event, I think they’ve got enough experience and maturity to be able to play that down and concentrate on what they need to do.
“Surbiton I think have got a few tricks up their sleeve and obviously as the reigning champions should never be underestimated.”
The Copper Box was praised for its intense atmosphere at London 2012, and Jones is looking forward to similar levels of support at the Super 6s.
He said: “It’s heart-warming that there are so many legacy venues in use post-2012 and the Copper Box has a worthy place in amongst those as a marquee venue that any elite athlete would want to play at.
“It’s certainly a stand-out venue. We’re looking for an electric atmosphere and some top-quality hockey.”
Tickets for the day are priced £21.50-£28.50 for adults and £9-13 for under-18s.