Veteran Black Stick Aniwaka Roberts back after 7-year hiatus

Source: 1News

The Black Sticks are gearing up for a big year with a new-look squad but there's a familiar face back in the ranks after seven years away.

Defender Aniwaka Roberts has been called up to the squad for next week's trans-Tasman series but a few things have changed since her last international cap.

"This doesn't happen to everybody, especially after having two little kids," Roberts told 1News.

Now 33 and a mum of two, Roberts is the first to admit she didn't think making a return to the international stage was possible.

"I didn't finish my career, my first part of my career as I wanted to," she said.

"But that's the way hockey goes sometimes and I guess that fire was still in my belly."

Roberts burst onto the international scene in 2012, racking up 67 caps before her international career suddenly finished just three years later.

Black Stick Aniwaka Roberts plays the ball during an international against Argentina in 2013.

She chipped away in the national hockey leagues while also juggling life as a new mum before all of a sudden, she got a call she'd waited seven years for last month.

Black Sticks assistant coach Verity Sharland said her selection was a no-brainer for the side.

"Ani has a really calm and composed style of play and that's something we've been looking for across our group," Sharland said.

"We are a young squad and Ani's international experience and life experience she brings [will be a big asset]."

While she has plenty of experience under her belt, there's still a chance for Roberts to finally tick off some career goals she has yet to achieve.

Aniwaka Roberts.

"Look, I didn't get to play in a Commonwealth Games or a World Cup when I was last in the squad," Roberts recalled.

"I always wanted to but things didn't go my way back then so if I could tick those two boxes, I'd be pretty happy."

In order to do that she needs to impress against the Aussies next week and her number one training partners, her kids, will be there to support and inspire her.

"This trans-Tasman series becomes about them and showing them what mum can do," she said.