Split by continents, united in mission
National hockey team's two camps come together to face Australia Country on Monday
The Republic's hockey men have spent the last 16 days in two camps, separated by an entire continent.
But yesterday, as he welcomed the 11 players (of the 22-man squad) who had travelled to Perth, Singapore coach Solomon Casoojee was firm in his belief that the team are walking a single path, united in their mission at the South-east Asia Games in Singapore from June 5-16.
"Contrary to what has been said, we are a united team, well-bonded and very focused on getting the best result possible," said the South African.
"The content of both programmes was at my direction. We implemented it here in Singapore, and it was very similar to what the boys in Perth were doing.
"This weekend we'll bring everyone together, and get the guys from Perth to transfer the knowledge they've got there to the guys here.
"It has helped that even over the past two weeks, there has been a lot of communication between the groups."
The split came about due to various reasons - with school and National Service commitments of some players standing in the way of travel, while others chose to remain in Singapore for personal reasons.
There will be two training sessions today, and while tomorrow will see a break for the state funeral of the Republic's founding father, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, the men will face their first test - as a unit - on Monday against Australia Country.
The Aussies are not the current World Cup champions, but a team made up of players who are not from the nation's metropolitan centres.
A second match against the same opposition has been scheduled for Wednesday.
Defender Tan Yiru is looking forward to reuniting with his mates.
He said: "We were more focused there, simply because there were less distractions.
"And while I think there may be a slight difference (between those who went to Perth and those who didn't), we will pass on what we learnt and try to influence the way the (full) team play."
Describing an average day in Perth as centred around two intense training sessions, separated by time for rest and a self-cooked lunch, team captain Enrico Marican does not believe having a separated squad will have too much of a detrimental effect on the team's preparations.
"I don't think this split is a very big deal, in fact, even the Australia national team doesn't always train together," said the forward.
"While there, we worked on very similar things to what we did in Singapore before, but it was beneficial.
"The training sessions and games there were at a much higher intensity, that's for sure.
"And we've learnt to up our intensity without rushing our play."
"That and attention to small details during the game were two key things that we learnt there," he added, revealing that, as it turned out, there was a distinct thread linking their work in Perth and the work done here under Casoojee.
"We worked with four different coaches (in Perth) who each gave us his own input, and it was pretty much the same stuff that we've been told by our coaches here, just in a different manner," said Enrico.
Casoojee is just pleased that the message seems to be getting across.
"The change of scenery could have had an impact," he said.
After the two matches next week, a 15-man squad will return to Perth for the second part of the training stint from April 3-15, this time with Casoojee overseeing the travelling squad.
Former Dutch Olympian Bram Lomans, the team's specialist skill consultant, will be responsible for the players remaining in Singapore.