One new cap has been included in the Black Sticks team to play in the BDO Champions Challenge men in Antwerp/Boom, Belgium from 23 June until 1 July.
The newcomer is North Harbour’s Steve Edwards, (21) who has been named as a wing half who can also provide cover as inside forward.
National Coach Shane McLeod said Edwards had impressed with a solid national training camp recently.
“Steve gives us slightly different covering options and if he continues to progress will consolidate a position in the starting line up,” he says.
McLeod said Edwards also stood out at the National Under 21 tournament earlier this month, where he rated him Player of the Tournament.
In other selections of interest, goal keeper Paul Woolford returns with renewed energy after taking a break and being unavailable for the Dutch series in January.
Experienced striker Dave Kosoof is back in the attack. Up and coming Canterbury striker Jan Petersen was unavailable for selection due to work commitments with the New Zealand Navy.
Another Canterbury developing player, defender Andy Hayward (21), was unfortunate not to make the final cut. “Andy was unlucky that he didn’t work into our final calculations of what we need to discover during this tournament,” says McLeod.
The Black Sticks are in a building phase leading up to the BDO Champion’s Challenge.
McLeod’s focus is on cementing his back four and finding a player for the pivotal centre half position, which has been unresolved since the retirement of Simon Towns after the 2005 Oceania Cup in Fiji.
“There are a few questions to be asked about the position and finding a person with the discipline to support the rest of our structure,” he says. “We want to do that without compromising our halfbacks and fullbacks.”
In recent times, both defender Blair Hopping and specialist inside forward Ryan Archibald have fulfilled the role.
McLeod is now looking at developing either Casey Henwood or youngster Nick Haig as possible successors.
McLeod’s goal for the tournament is for the Black Sticks to be one of the best sides competing: “With the absence of the top teams, we need to get comfortable in that position and learn to develop a positive arrogance,” he says. “That is not something you can rehearse outside of this arena where there are tough matches of consequences - there is huge opportunity for reward.”
The tournament will be contested by Argentina (7), Belgium (13), England (9), India (8), Japan (12) and New Zealand (10).
The squad will depart for Europe on Sunday 10 June.
The Black Sticks matches will be broadcast on Sky 1 and 2 throughout the tournament.
Black Sticks team to for Champions Challenge tournament:
Auckland: Ryan Archibald, Simon Child, Dean Couzins, Bevan Hari, Paul Woolford.
Canterbury: Nick Haig, Bradley Shaw, Hayden Shaw.
Midlands: Casey Henwood.
North Harbour: Ben Collier, Bryce Collins, Steve Edwards, Blair Hopping, Dave Kosoof, Lloyd Stephenson.
Wellington: Phil Burrows, Kyle Pontifex, James Nation.
Source: Hockey New Zealand
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