Ipswich’s George Pinner relishing opportunity to captain Great Britain and England in exciting new era

Great Britain and England goalkeeper George Pinner.
Photo: Grant Treeby

Great Britain and England goalkeeper George Pinner. Photo: Grant Treeby - Credit: Grant Treeby

Ipswich’s George Pinner is ready to ‘right the wrongs of Rio’ in his new role as Great Britain and England hockey captain.

It’s the start of a new era for the men’s team following last year’s disastrous ninth place finish at the Olympics and the retirement of the nation’s most-capped player of all time and legendary skipper Barry Middleton.

Exuberant goalkeeper Pinner – who now has more than 100 internationals caps to his name – has been voted in by his team-mates as one of three new captains.

“Barry did a stellar job as captain for the best part of 10 years, so when he stepped down we as a group sat down and discussed what we wanted to do,” explained the 30-year-old former Ipswich School pupil.

“The decision was made that it was best to have three captains going forwards to share that responsibility and to be voted by my peers means a lot because they see the best and worst of me. It’s a massive honour.

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“I’m a loud and confident character on and off the field who is not afraid to say my piece and that won’t change.”

Pinner, who married GB women’s player Jo Hunter last month, missed the Azlan Shah tournament along with five other senior players. In their absence a new-look young team won gold.

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Now a full-strength squad faces a big summer, starting with the World League semi-finals in London next week and continuing with the EuroHockey Championships in Holland at the back end of August. Both tournaments act as qualifiers for next year’s World Cup in India, with 2018’s main event being the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

“It will be great to get back out there and start righting the wrongs of Rio early in this Olympic cycle,” said Pinner, who will be 33 by the time the Tokyo Games come around in 2020. “The great thing about sport is how quickly you move on.

“No disrespect to the previous group, but after London (2012) I did think ‘we’ve got some work to do here’. I think it’s fair to say in those two years leading up to 2014 we probably overplayed, then we dropped off a bit.

“This new group has got some really good attacking players. We want to press hard, win the ball back and counter at pace. It’s the most exciting squad I have been involved in.”

The World League semi-finals are at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford from June 15-25. England face China in their Pool A opener.

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