Ten new caps have been named in the Pelorus Trust New Zealand Men’s Hockey squad to meet Malaysia in a four-Test series in New Zealand next month.

The squad announcement heralds a new era for New Zealand men’s hockey and starts a campaign that will culminate at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Two of the newcomers are New Zealand High Performance Squad members and eight have been drawn from the New Zealand Development Squad.

The new caps from the NZ Squad are Sanjay Patel and Shaun Barnett.  The players promoted from the Development Squad are Hamish Baron (18), Simon Child (16), Cain Fleming (20), Jason Bradley (25), Hugh Copland (21), Ben Collier (20), Tim Gyles (20) and Richard Petherick (18).

Auckland-based Wayne McIndoe has been named to captain the side for the first time.

Coach Kevin Towns says that McIndoe’s contribution to the team leading up to and during the Athens Olympics and Champions Trophy last year was exceptional and that he leads by example on and off the field.

Ten New Zealand High Performance squad members were unavailable for selection. They are: Phillip Burrows and Dean Couzins (playing in the Dutch League); James Nation and Simon Towns (playing in the English League); Bevan Hari (playing in the Welsh League); Shea McAleese and Casey Henwood (playing in the Australian Hockey League), Ryan Archibald and Gareth Brooks (work commitments); and Mitesh Patel who departs for London in March.

Coach Kevin Towns is looking forward to seeing the new group of players in action and has promised to give the whole squad game time.

“I think it is fantastically exciting to have so many new young players that we have the confidence to play,” he said.

“Having achieved so much in Athens it’s now time for us to turn our focus on Beijing. We have a lot to do and much to achieve in this series against Malaysia – we have some exciting young players that certainly show the potential to become part of this New Zealand side in the future or in the short term should they impress.

'For me it will be about seeing how they cope with international hockey and how they adapt to the style we play.  I won’t be expecting them to step right in where more experienced players have been but I will be looking for how they react, what opportunities they see and how they take them.

“Specialist skills like the drag flick are hugely important.  I will be looking to see how the nominated players approach their first chance to test their skill at this level.”

Towns said the results in the Malaysian series are not nearly as important to him as the way in which his new players approach and cope with their roles.

Next year is a busy one for New Zealand men’s hockey, highlighted by the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March and the World Cup in Germany in September.

New Zealand will play the Oceania World Cup Qualifying series against Australia in late 2005.  If they do not qualify through the series, the side will then play in the Men’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament in China in April.

Malaysia is also building towards the World Cup Qualifier.

The side is under a new local coach, Wallace Tan, who has taken over from German Paul Lissek, after Malaysia’s disappointment in not qualifying for the Athens Olympics last year.

New Zealand last played at the Champions Trophy in Pakistan last December. The Malaysians have had a more recent preparation after being dormant for the second part of 2004 while New Zealand was busy at the elite level.

Malaysia won a four-Test series against Belgium earlier this year and then had a loss and a draw in a series with Bloemendaal (Dutch Division One 2004 winners).

The two sides last met at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Spain in March 2004.  New Zealand won 1-0.

Match Schedule
1st Test: Tuesday 22 March, Albany, 7pm
2nd Test: Thursday 24 March, Hamilton, 7pm
3rd Test: Saturday 26 March, Auckland, 3pm
4th Test: Sunday 27 March, Auckland, 1pm

New Zealand Men
Hamish Baron (Auckland)
Simon Child (Auckland)
Cain Fleming (Auckland)
Dion Gosling (Auckland)
Wayne McIndoe (Auckland)
Sanjay Patel (Auckland)
Dharmesh Puna (Auckland)
Paul Woolford (Auckland)
Jason Bradley (Canterbury)
Hugh Copland (Canterbury)
Brad Shaw (Canterbury)
Shaun Barnett (North Harbour)
Ben Collier (North Harbour)
Bryce Collins (North Harbour)
Blair Hopping (North Harbour)
David Kosoof (North Harbour)
Darren Smith (North Harbour)
Lloyd Stephenson (North Harbour)
Richard Petherick (Waikato)
Tim Gyles (Wellington)
Kyle Pontifex (Wellington)

For more information, visit the NZ Hockey Federation website.