Black Sticks Women’s coach Mark Hager has selected a new line up for the Argentina home test series, giving the wider national squad players the chance to prove themselves prior to Olympic selection in June.
Australian based Melody Cooper, young goalkeeper Amelia Gibson, North Harbour’s Petrea Webster, Northland’s Ella Gunson, Canterbury’s Bridget Blackwood, Auckland’s Julia King and Midlands’ Kate Mahon, who returns from long term injury, have all been selected in the 20 player squad.
“Like all our international games in the next five months we will be using this series as preparation for the Olympics. To put our players up against world number two Argentina will give us another opportunity to see which players have what it takes to be named in the Olympic team and which combinations are working well,” says Hager.
Luciana Aymar – the only player in history to have received the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Player of the Year Award seven times – is in the Argentinean side travelling to New Zealand. Known as Las Leonas, the team remains relatively unchanged following their gold medal performance at last month’s FIH Champions Trophy in Rosario.
“We have mainly made changes to our defensive line up. It is not just the wider squad we will be watching, all players have to step up from Champions Trophy and perform better. We will review performances from this series and based on that, announce teams for our international series next month,” says Hager.
The four test series which starts on Monday 12 March will be held in Auckland, with alternate games being held at North Harbour Hockey Stadium in Albany and Lloyd Elsmore Hockey Stadium in Pakuranga.
The Black Sticks have been training on the new blue turf at Westlake Girls High School. The surface is the same as the turf being used at the London Olympics, with the turf’s colour being changed from green to blue to help create a better quality television broadcast.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
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