Tauranga Boys' College hockey coaches rate last weekend's quadrangular tournament a success ahead of the Rankin Cup in Wellington later this month.
Tauranga Boys', Palmerston North Boys', Westlake Boys' and King's College played a competitive series in difficult weather conditions with Westlake Boys' taking the overall honours.
Tauranga Boys' First XI coach Stephen Graham, who was goalkeeper in the Black Sticks from 2007 until after the London Olympics in 2012, says it was a valuable insight into the other teams, particularly Palmerston North Boys'.
"They are in the same pool as us. Probably the number one seed team at Rankin Cup is going to be St Paul's so our key goals is to make sure we finish top of the pool so we avoid crossing over with St Paul's," Graham said.
"But we also had two teams that consistently finish top four in Rankin Cup in Westlake and King's College. So to play those sort of opposition beforehand gives us a major edge as well as allowing us to practice our presses and how we shift the ball around the back against quality opposition."
Despite not winning the quadrangular tournament Graham took plenty of positives out of the weekend.
"In terms of fitness and playing tournament hockey it was important.
"Typically in secondary school hockey you are playing one game per week so this gave us an insight into playing two games on a day and then having to back up the next day.
"We had a few boys go down with cramp and in terms of dealing with injuries and adapting to changes I think generally the boys coped really well."
Graham is proud to be back at Tauranga Boys' College where it all started for him.
"For me it is awesome to be able to come back to my school that meant so much to me when I was playing," he said.
"It would be great to put a few demons to rest. We had a perfect season then lost the final to Auckland Grammar so I would love to be a part of the team that gets Tauranga Boys' College its first Rankin Cup.
"That is definitely our ambition we want as a school going forward.
"We have a great bunch of students here now with just three Year 13 students moving on next year so the results this year are good building for the future."
Master in Charge of hockey Rob Leslie has been teaching at Tauranga Boys' College since 1979.
He says they have more boys playing hockey than ever before.
"The last two years we have had 75 Year 9 players come into the school which gives us a base to work from and things are looking in really good shape.
"There is really good work being done in the primary and intermediate schools and we are seeing a higher skill level of the young men who are fronting up at our doorstep, which is making our job a bit easier I guess.
"There is the potential there to take them further."
Tauranga Boys' 4 Palmerston North Boys' 2
Tauranga Boys' 2 King's College 1
King's College 5 Westlake Boys' 2
Westlake Boys' 2 Palmerston North Boys' 2
Palmerston North Boys' 2 King's College 2
Tauranga Boys' 2 Westlake Boys' 4
Overall winners: Westlake Boys'