Hockey New Zealand: Two new caps, Canterbury defender Bridget Kight and North Harbour midfielder Kate Mahon have been named in the New Zealand Black Sticks women’s team to compete in the Indira Gandhi Tournament in New Delhi from 1-9 October.
Kight (21) has been elevated from the National Development Squad, which she was introduced to last October after her debut year in the National Hockey League. Kight is an imposing player with all the attributes to develop into a very good defender.
Mahon (21) was named in the National Squad last year, after several years as a National Development player. She is a well-organised, defensive player who has the potential to step up to the next level.
Both Mahon and Kight played for the New Zealand Under 21 team against Australia last year.
Black Sticks Coach Ian Rutledge sees the Indira Gandhi Tournament as his last opportunity to experiment with players before the Commonwealth Games next March and is giving both newcomers the chance to push for contention.
The third notable inclusion is Tauranga defender Diana Weavers, who missed the July Champions Challenge tournament with a hip injury. The return of Weavers, who has played over 150 games for New Zealand and is the team vice-captain, brings enormous experience to the side.
Two players are being rested to allow for player development. They are North Harbour defender Lizzy Igasan, who was named Player of the Tournament at the Champions Challenge and Canterbury’s Jo Galletly, who is also a defender and has had a good year for New Zealand.
Igasan played a huge role in the Champions Challenge, playing all 420 minutes of the tournament and will benefit from a rest from international hockey before being re-introduced for the Oceania Cup series in November.
Ian Rutledge was confident in the calibre of the team selected: “We are in a good position in that we have come from winning a major tournament and have the depth to make three changes without impacting on the strength of the team.”
The Indira Gandhi Tournament will act as preparation for the Oceania Cup and Commonwealth Games.
“It is a particularly attractive tournament in terms of the Commonwealth Games from the point of view that it replicates the Games format and team make up,” he says.
As in Melbourne the tournament is made up of several tougher teams combined with lower ranked teams.
Participating teams in New Delhi will be Australia (world ranking 3rd), New Zealand (6th), India (15th), Russia (16th), Kazakhstan (24th), Lithuania (26th).
At the Commonwealth Games the higher ranked teams will include Australia, England (8th), South Africa (11th), and India. The lower sides will include Malaysia (25th), Nigeria (22nd) and Barbados (28th).
“It is important that we prepare against the good teams, but also make sure we put away the perceived lower teams,” he said.
New Zealand consolidated sixth spot on the women’s Sahara WorldHockey Team Rankings when they won the Rabobank Champions Challenge. New Zealand has now moved 321 points clear of seventh-placed Korea, increasing their lead by 202 points under the formula used by the FIH to calculate the rankings points. The point’s margin is large enough that New Zealand should maintain sixth position even if Korea wins the Samsung Champions Trophy in Canberra later this year.
New Zealand Black Sticks Women
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