Hockey New Zealand: Three players from the group of newcomers who were introduced to international hockey against Malaysia earlier this year have been given the opportunity to further their experience with inclusion in the latest Black Sticks men’s team named to tour Europe next month.
Ben Collier, 21, (North Harbour), Jason Bradley, 26, (Canterbury) and Simon Child, 17, (Auckland) have been named in the 18-strong team to meet France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Child, a striker, is the youngest in the squad and still at school at Kings College. Child will play the first four games against France and Belgium before flying back earlier than the rest of the team to minimise time off school. The tour is timed coincidently with Child’s school holidays.
Collier impressed in the midfield against Malaysia and is being given another opportunity to stake his claim moving forward towards the Beijing Olympics.
Bradley, a striker, did not get very much field time during the Malaysian series because one of the two matches he was allocated to play was abandoned due to torrential rain. Europe will give him the opportunity to have more game time.
Two of the young players who were introduced against Malaysia this year and then went on to make the team which played in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia last month, have also been named to go to Europe. They are defenders Richard Petherick, 19, (Waikato) and Shea McAleese, 20, (Canterbury).
Returning to the team are North Harbour striker Lloyd Stephenson and Auckland defender Casey Henwood, both of whom have been living in Australia. Henwood has been playing for Canberra in the Australian Hockey League. Stephenson has played 27 games for New Zealand, while Henwood has played 14.
Also returning to the side is Olympian Mitesh Patel, who has been taking a break in the United Kingdom. Patel, who has played over 100 games for New Zealand, last played for the Black Sticks at the Champions Trophy in Lahore late last year.
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