Three new caps have been named in the New Zealand Women’s Hockey team to meet the USA in a five-test series in the lower North Island next month. 

The announcement follows the conclusion of a four-day Black Stick trials camp in Auckland yesterday which was attended by 31 players. 

The newcomers in the 18-strong side are Waikato defender Clarissa Eshuis (18); midfielder Jane Maley (24) and striker Lizzie Ryan (19) both from Canterbury. 

Eshuis is the youngest of the three, having recently left school. She is a Development Squad and New Zealand Under 21 team member. 

“Eshuis exhibits all the attributes needed in a top level fullback or halfback. She is a strong tackler, well balanced and has good distribution skills,” Black Sticks Coach Ian Rutledge said. 

Maley is also a Development Squad member. Rutledge is impressed by the potential the Cantabrian can offer to New Zealand’s midfield and forward line. She is fast, fit and has good goal scoring skills. The USA series will give Maley an opportunity to continue her development. 

Ryan is a National Squad member and impressed with strong performances for the NZ Under 21 team which met Australia in Wellington late last year. She has natural pace and is a former NZ Secondary School sprinter. 

“Ryan also has a natural goal scoring ability including a very strong hit,” Rutledge said. 

The team includes a strong base of experience in the form of 11 Olympians. 

Four relatively inexperienced players - midfielder Jo Galletly (15 caps), Honor Dillon who has five caps (both Canterbury), Centrals Sheree Phillips (8 caps) and Anita Wawatai (8 caps) have been retained in the side after playing in last December’s BDO Hockey Champions Trophy in Argentina. 

Experienced North Harbour striker Jaimee Provan (88 caps) returns to the national side after sitting out last December’s Champions Trophy where she made way for developing strikers. 

Overall, Rutledge is very impressed with the standard of hockey played at the camp. 

“The speed, strength and fitness of the players were at the highest level I have seen since I have been involved with the national team” he said. 

“The group has made great progress since last year. They have been training hard full-time since the end of Champions Trophy and have made huge improvements in all areas technically. 

“There is a real desire in the team to build on the Olympic experience as we move towards next year’s Commonwealth Games.” 

The Black Sticks will meet the USA on Saturday 14 May at 2pm in Wellington; on Monday 16 May at 7pm in Napier; on Tuesday 17 May at 7pm in Napier; on Thursday 19 May at 7pm in Levin and on Saturday 21 May at 2pm, in Wellington. 

The five-test series will act as preparation for the Rabobank Hockey Champions Challenge Tournament in Virginia Beach, USA, from 8-16 July. England, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the host USA will contest the tournament which is for team’s ranked seven to 12 in the world. 

Black Sticks team to meet USA
Stacey Carr, Honor Dillon Jo Galletly, Jane Maley, Emily Naylor, Meredith Orr, Lizzie Ryan, Kayla Sharland (Canterbury); Tara Drysdale, Sheree Phillips, Anita Wawatai (Manawatu); Lizzy Igasan, Jaimee Provan (North Harbour); Diana Weavers (vc) (Tauranga); Clarissa Eshuis (Waikato); Beth Jurgeleit, Suzie Muirhead (c), Niniwa Roberts-Lang (Wellington).