New Zealand's Ben Collier has stepped away from international hockey at the age of 29.
New Zealand's Ben Collier has stepped away from international hockey at the age of 29.
(Photo: Hockey New Zealand)

Long-serving Black Sticks midfielder Ben Collier has announced his retirement from international hockey.

The 29-year-old played 137 tests for New Zealand from 2005-2012 with what will now serve as his final game coming at last year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final, which the Black Sticks won.

Collier said the decision to withdraw from contention for the New Zealand National Squad was a tough decision to make, but one he’s comfortable with.

“I’ve had a year away after the London campaign and now with my career and other things I decided I couldn’t commit the time necessary to compete at international level,” he said.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make but it’s always good to get on the front foot and make a call. I’ll be looking forward to having a bit more free time and a bit more focus on life after sport.”

During his Black Sticks career he played at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, 2008 Beijing Olympics and narrowly missed selection for the 2012 London Olympic side.

Collier built his reputation as a workhorse in the midfield, with a skill set based around sound fundamentals and working together with the players around him.

He’s had some injury setbacks over the years with the likes of a fractured sternum, head knocks and shoulder issues but has loved every minute in the black jersey.

Collier identifies his two biggest highlights as qualifying for the Beijing Olympics with a thrilling win over Argentina in front of a home crowd at North Harbour, as well as the Black Sticks’ come from behind win over Korea in their Beijing opener.

With the curtain drawn on his international career, Collier will remain close to the sport in both a playing and coaching capacity, and will be taking to the turf for the Central Mavericks in next month’s Ford National Hockey League.

“I’m playing NHL this year for Central and I’ll look to keep playing club hockey and do some coaching so I’ll certainly be staying within hockey circles and continue giving back to the sport from that point of view.

“I think the current Black Sticks squad have got a great opportunity with some of the young guys coming through mixed with the seniors as mentors - that’s a recipe for success. There’s an opportunity to create a team culture that’s uniquely theirs as they set their minds on Rio.”

Source material: Hockey New Zealand Media release