After making his Great Britain debut earlier this year, Rupert Shipperley has been offered a full-time place in the men’s programme in the lead up our next FIH Hockey Pro League games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Hampstead & Westminster athlete had been training with the team in the latter part of 2019 before being called up to the squad for the first time and featuring in all four FIH Hockey Pro League games against Australia and New Zealand last month.
He scored on his debut against the Kookaburras and impressed to the extent that Danny Kerry and his coaching team have decided to bring him into the fold ahead of a crucial six months.
The Welsh international said: “Originally Danny said he’d speak to me when we got back from the tour so I knew there was a decision coming – whether it would be a good one or not I wasn’t sure. But I felt like I played well out in Australia and New Zealand so I was fairly confident. I was relieved and happy when I got the call!
“That was my trial. I felt like I trained and played well out there. It’s obviously one of those subjective decisions but luckily I was on the right side of it.
“I was a little bit nervous, it was a bit like getting my first cap for Wales. It reminded me of those emotions. Scoring on debut is always nice – I was absolutely shattered at the time though, hence the celebration where I just stood still!”
Shipperley becomes the fourth Welsh player to be part of the central programme based at Bisham Abbey, joining Jacob Draper in the men’s team and Sarah Jones and Leah Wilkinson in the women’s.
Speaking about the decision to offer a full-time contract to the former teacher, Kerry said: “I am delighted for Rupert in his selection to this GB squad. We have been tracking him for some time in his play for club, with Wales and then through an extended period of assessment within the GB programme.
“Rupert brings good game intelligence, a fantastic work ethic and athleticism and a competitive edge on the pitch. His inclusion further increases the depth in our squad as we prepare for the FIH Hockey Pro League and Tokyo Olympic Games and we look forward to working with Rupert.”
Shipperley will be next hoping to be in action for GB’s men in their next FIH Hockey Pro League games away to The Netherlands on 28-29 April before the league returns to London on 2-3 May when the men face India and the women take on China.
With Danny Kerry still unsure of his favoured squad and places for Tokyo2020 still up for grabs, player movement is still inevitable, especially during this years ProLeague campaign.
With a number of fans across the United Kingdom calling on Danny Kerry and Great Britain to give Nick Bandurak, of Holcombe, his long awaited call up, Danny went on record after the Olympic Qualifiers to confirm that Bandurak is very much in his sights.
Kerry has been watching hours of footage of Bandurak, a natural in front of goal, finishing first or second in the goal scoring charts in four of the last five season.