If it was down to you or me, Great Britain’s women’s hockey team would win every match they played.
Casting your eyes over opinions on social media following the Champions Trophy events in London in June, you’d be assured that should a sudden bout of ill-health befall Danny Kerry, there is a wealth of ‘Keyboard Coaches’ knowledgeable, eager and able to perform as well, if not better.
It’s easy to sit in the stands and make calls about who should be cut from the squad, how to play more offensively or how to boost penalty corner conversion rates.
But in reality, those decisions are often not as black and white as they appear from row 23 at Lee Valley.
GB’s women finished in fifth, after ending the round robin stage sixth out of six.
However the squad has turned this around with some impressive results in pre-Rio warm-ups matches, but can they offset the trepidation many will no doubt feel following the Champions Trophy.
Going back to that, Kerry is quick to point out how four key players were only just getting back on the pitch again following injury.
“We had three quite influential players [back from injury], Danson, Owsley, and Cullen, who literally it is her first hockey back and you can add Laura Unsworth to that list,” he said.
“They desperately needed that time and at times that reflected in our play we were a bit off the pace.”
Kerry must be fiend at the poker table. His face gives little away from the stand when the games are in progress and is wilier still when the media comes knocking asking about progress.
It is quite the curve ball he throws when he describes finishing fifth out of sixth in a home tournament just prior to the Olympics as ‘almost perfect’.
He said: “The tournament was probably in a perverse way, almost perfect. To sharpen the blade a little bit, give us some extra focus in training and really helped us to understand what we need to focus on the last few weeks.
“It was a tough tournament, but pretty much perfect in terms of preparation for Rio.”
He praised the mentality of the group, sticking together through some tough results and ending on a comparative high, when other teams ‘would have crumbled’. But said there was a lack of ‘toughness’ in certain areas of the game that needs working on.
A point of contention has long been penalty corner conversion rates. With Cullen injured early in the tournament, GB seemed short on effective alternative ideas.
They scored one PC goal in the entire competition, a neat switched play in the final match versus New Zealand. A routine which was arguably the most slick of any over the whole event. So why did they wait to unleash it?
Speaking of this Kerry smiles wryly and explains they’ve ‘held back’ quite a few of their best routines. So maybe there are good surprises to come.
Asked if there were any other points of improvement, the frank reply is, “A couple, but I’m not prepared the share them.”
Very canny Danny.
Asked if his confidence or aims had changed ahead of Rio following these results, he said no, adding: “We train for years and our aspiration is to go there and come home with a medal.
“I don’t think you’d find anyone saying anything different, I think you’re in the wrong sport if you’re taking about ‘Well we’ll go there to be our best’.
“Yes we absolutely go there to be our best, but our best is intending to come home with something shiny.”
GB women launch their Rio campaign taking on Australia at 00.30 on Sunday 7 August.