New Zealand women claimed Bronze at the 2011 Champions Trophy
(Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)
The Black Sticks national coaches have named their teams for the 2011 Oceania Olympic Qualifier to be played in Hobart from 6-9 October, 2011.
The Oceania region has two Olympic allocations courtesy of world rankings for both men and women and with Fiji having pulled out it gives Australia and New Zealand automatic qualification to the London Olympics. The qualifier will now be a three test series between the two rival teams.
The national coaches say the qualifier will be more about getting further test experience against Australia and gaining valuable world ranking points.
Black Sticks Women’s coach Mark Hager has named an experienced team, selecting the same 18 players who beat Australia in pool play and went on to win bronze at the 2011 Champions Trophy in July in Amsterdam.
“This will be a hard fought series against a top team - there is so much rivalry between these two sides. With us ranked sixth and Australia ranked seventh, we will need to win the series in order to hold our position,” says Hager.
Black Sticks Men’s coach Shane McLeod has chosen a very experienced men’s team with players like Phil Burrows, Blair Hopping and Dean Couzins – all who rack up a total 730 test caps. This will be the opportunity to take on world champions Australia, which will be invaluable in their build up to the Champions Trophy being held at North Harbour in early December.
“This Olympic qualifier forms a key component of our preparation towards Champions Trophy and will allow us to test our game against a world champion, gold medal team. Australia play with pace and aggression; they are clinical in attack and punish other teams for their errors. We will need to match their aggression and pace; increase our scoring opportunities and finish off the opportunities we create,” says McLeod.
Both teams will be Auckland based in the week prior to the Oceania Cup.
“To have the team centralised for a week will help us work on our set plays and game strategy before we leave for Hobart,” says McLeod.
The Black Sticks 2012 London Olympic teams will be announced in June next year.Click here for the tournament schedule.
Both teams depart on Saturday 1 October – the Black Sticks Men at 4.35pm and the Black Sticks Women at 7.20am - from Auckland International Airport.Download the team lists hereHockey New Zealand Media release