Four uncapped players feature in the Black Sticks squads to face Australia in the Trans-Tasman series in Palmerston North in two weeks' time.
Head coaches Darren Smith (men) and Graham Shaw (women) have today named squads of 22 for the four doubleheaders at Massey University from 27 May to 1 June.
Likely to make their debuts are Wellington defender Oliver MacIntyre and the Hawke’s Bay pair of Sean Findlay and Sam Hiha, while Auckland striker Tyler Lench is the only uncapped player in the women’s squad.
Smith said it would be a special moment to see the men’s trio make their debuts.
“Sean, Oliver and Sam will get to pull on the black jersey for the first time – something that’s long been a dream of theirs and will now become a reality.”
The Black Sticks Men will welcome back prolific goalscorer Nick Wilson who last played for his country five years ago at the Rio Olympics. Wilson will play in front of his home crowd in Palmerston North for the first time despite having 170 caps for his country.
Smith said there was nothing like playing international hockey to fully test where the team was at.
“The benefit of playing Australia is that their quality will fully run the ruler over our players and what we are trying to achieve as a team.”
Shaw felt he’d named a very strong side that will compete well against our rivals from across the ditch.
“There’s a group of very experienced players along with a number of really exciting youngsters including Tyler who has been working hard to get this opportunity.”
The matches will be the first internationals in New Zealand since the FIH Pro League was interrupted by Covid-19 in March 2020.
“There’s real excitement in the squad about the opportunity to play an international after nearly 15 months without a game. The players have been craving this for quite a long time now,” Shaw said.
The Black Sticks squads for the Tokyo Olympics will be named in the week after the Trans-Tasman series.
Black Sticks squads for the Trans-Tasman series:
Men: Steve Edwards, George Muir (North Harbour); Leon Hayward (GK), Jared Panchia (Auckland); Nic Woods (Waikato); Sean Findlay, Sam Hiha, Shea McAleese, Dylan Thomas (Hawke’s Bay); Nick Wilson (Manawatu); Stephen Jenness, Dane Lett, Oliver MacIntyre, Jacob Smith (Wellington); David Brydon, George Enersen (GK), Sam Lane, Dominic Newman (Canterbury); Hugo Inglis, Nick Ross, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant (Otago).
Women: Ella Gunson, Stacey Michelsen (Northland); Steph Dickins (North Harbour); Katie Doar, Julia King, Tyler Lench, Grace O’Hanlon (GK), Liz Thompson (Auckland); Tarryn Davey (Thames Valley); Alia Jaques (Waikato); Samantha Charlton, Frances Davies, Rose Keddell (Tauranga); Holly Pearson, Hope Ralph (Taranaki); Georgia Barnett (GK), Kayla Whitelock, Olivia Shannon (Manawatu); Megan Hull (Wairarapa); Kelsey Smith (Nelson); Olivia Merry (Canterbury); Tessa Jopp (Otago).