New Zealand Olympic Committee: The New Zealand men’s hockey team will not lack for experience when they line up at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne next month.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) in conjunction with Hockey New Zealand today confirmed a team of 16 players for the Games beginning on 15 March.

The team includes 10 players from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games side which finished sixth. They are Darren Smith, Blair Hopping, Dean Couzins, Bevan Hari, Paul Woolford, Kyle Pontifex, Phillip Burrows, Hayden Shaw, James Nation and Gareth Brooks.

Eight players - Archibald, Hari, Woolford, Shaw, Smith, Couzins, Hopping and Burrows - played in the silver medal winning team at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

The return of Hayden Shaw after a break from hockey boosts the side’s attacking penalty corner strength. Shaw, a drag flick specialist, was the top goal scorer at the 2002 Manchester Games with 13 goals including three hat tricks.

Internationally recognized striker Phil Burrows spearheads the attack from the field, after recovering from an operation following a blood clot.

Smith and Archibald will provide experience in the midfield, while in defence 2005 Hockey New Zealand Player of the Year Blair Hopping will provide a steady anchor.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Board Member and member of the NZOC’s selection committee, Mike Stanley says it is an impressive line up.

“The men’s team thrilled us all with their outstanding performance at the 2002 Games. They are now more experienced and I am sure will perform with great credit in Melbourne.”

“The New Zealand Olympic Committee has worked hard to ensure all athletes are provided with an environment inside the village that will allow them to perform to their full potential at the Games.”

The team has been centralised in Auckland from 6 February and will play two Tests against Canada on 4 and 5 March in Auckland. The team then leaves for Australia on 8 March.

New Zealand Men
Darren Smith, Blair Hopping, Dean Couzins, Ryan Archibald, Bradley Shaw, Bevan Hari, Paul Woolford, Kyle Pontifex, Phillip Burrows, Hayden Shaw, James Nation, Bryce Collins, Gareth Brooks, Shea McAleese, Ben Collier, Simon Child, Coach: Kevin Towns, Assistant Coach: John Christensen, Manager: Kevin Marr