Hockey: Hayward looking forward to Korean challenge

Tauranga's Andy Hayward is looking forward to the demanding six-game series against Korea.

The series is to be played from May 14-22, with two games at Rangitoto College, two at the Southern Hockey Turf in Papatoetoe and two at Counties Manukau.

Hayward says it is always a pleasure to be selected for the Black Sticks, even after 145 games for his country.

"It is definitely good to be picked for Korea. At the start of the year you always set your goals and you always want to get selected for every side that you aim for," said Hayward.

"This series, and leading on to the World League series in Europe [in June], are the big goals for the year.

"Korea are a pretty good team. ... They will be a tough side to beat but in the past we have had some success against Korea, but unfortunately the first game at the Olympics we lost to them.

"Our guys enjoy playing them because they play a good style of hockey.

"It will be a challenge because it is always tough playing a team six times in a row as I guess you get used to each other's style of play. By game four and five your tactics will need to change as you can't go out every game and play the same way."

Hayward played in the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) earlier this year and the 27-year-old loved the experience of playing in India.

"It was awesome and being in a different environment with a different team is always refreshing.

"To experience the Indian way of hockey life was really cool and to get to know a lot of the other foreign players as well.

"In the past you obviously play against them and you know who they are, but playing with them, you got to know them and also their skills they are very good at and I guess to learn from them as well, which is very important."

Black Sticks head coach Colin Batch named a 23-man squad for Korea with five additional players joining the same squad of 18 which played at the Azlan Shah Cup in March.

London Olympians Phil Burrows, Shea McAleese and Nick Haig return to the side along with young guns James Coughlan and George Muir.

North Harbour's Muir is the only debutant in the squad.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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