Hockey: First ABs, Adams then it's Germany for Greaney

By Anendra Singh

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Sam Greaney is off to Germany next month after attending an academy in Auckland on Monday. PHOTO/Warren Buckland
Sam Greaney is off to Germany next month after attending an academy in Auckland on Monday. PHOTO/Warren Buckland

You know you're on the right track when you're invited to attend an academy featuring NBA neophyte Steven Adams and three All Blacks.

While it can be an easy boarding pass for many on an ego trip to be rubbing shoulders with the country's elite, Hawke's Bay hockey player Sam Greaney is grounded about the Powerade Breakthrough Academy in Auckland on Monday.

"It'll give me some insight into what it takes to be the best in sport and stay there," says the 22-year-old from Napier of the gathering at the Trusts Stadium.

Greaney will participate in a session with All Black strengthening and conditioning coach Nick Gill but doesn't know who the AB trio are or what they will disseminate.

You see, for the New Zealand Development goalkeeper it's an opportune time to garner information on how the body functions and how to keep it an optimum level.

Greaney is jetting off to Germany on August 13 to play professional hockey for the Schwarz Weib Koln Club in Cologne.

He goes with the blessing of Black Sticks men's coach, Colin Batch, who he spoke with a fortnight ago before the Kiwis headed to Scotland for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

"Colin said I should go develop as a hockey player and learn from some of the best in the world to become a top-class goalkeeper."

The Bay Independent player, who is working at City Collision Repairs which father Roger Greaney owns, says it's hard to break into the Black Sticks although he has been training with them as part of the bigger development squad in 2012-13.

"Age is on my side so I can afford to go away, develop and be back at 24 to have a good start," he says, relishing the idea of having all expenses paid for in Cologne and earning some money coaching youngsters.

Sports First, of Auckland, has sponsored him in buying Vrabo gear.

He got a lifeline abroad through former Napier Boys' High School student exchange Marius Gemmel who lived with his family in Napier before the pair flatted together in Auckland where Greaney played for Takapuna Hockey Club in 2012.

A Facebook chat led to the right contacts on the German hockey board and a month later he got the exciting news.

He lodged an application for a visa a fortnight ago in Wellington.

It'll be his first overseas stint with a club although he has played abroad with the New Zealand Under-18, Junior Black Sticks and the NZ Development sides in the past few years.

He will play indoor hockey for his German club in Berlin while remaining there until Christmas.

Germans, he believes, are the best in the world in just about any sport that involves a ball, bar rugby.

An age-group CD player from 2007, Greaney helped the Mavericks win the NHL crown in 2011.

It was after a trip to Malaysia with a national team that Greaney learned one of life's lessons on self-discipline.

"I caught a virus and ended up in an Auckland hospital," he says, revealing he had had an inflammation of the heart.

Greaney beefed up to 108kg while recovering for two months.

With the help of Napier bodybuilder Tony O'Connor, he shed 20kg through dieting.

"I'm in pretty good shape and I've got some abs now."

Former Black Sticks assistant coach Greg Nicol, who is now CD high performance coach, has had the biggest influence in his life.

"I lived with Greg for a while in Auckland."

He has been in touch with Black Sticks vice-captain Shea McAleese over the years, including attending a 2012 camp where he trained alongside him.

"It's like a surreal family, growing up with your idol and coach."

Greaney has completed a first-year sport and recreation degree course and second-year business studies at the Eastern Institute of Technology in Taradale. He hopes to complete them some day.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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