Nine Black Sticks have the chance to join New Zealand cricketers in playing for big money when the inaugural Hockey India League hits off next year.

The nine New Zealand players, Dean Couzins, Phil Burrows, Hamish McGregor, Shea McAleese, Steve Edwards, Simon Child, Hugo Inglis, Nick Wilson and Andy Hayward, will be joined by most of the big names in the sport at next week's auction where the six franchises will settle on their playing rosters.

While there will be a heavy weighting in favour of Indian players - all members of this year's Indian Olympic team as well as many of their rising stars - international players will add real value to the HIL.

Although there is a salary cap placed on each team, there has been no speculation as yet as to how much the players will earn.


Australian Jamie Dwyer, five times the World Hockey Player of the Year, heads a strong Australian contingent heading into the auction where players will have, like the IPL cricketers, the chance to sign up for what promises to be a decent pay day.

The new league is significant in that it is fully sanctioned by the sport's governing body. A similar competition earlier this year was not sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

Hockey New Zealand fully supports the new competition because it is fully sanctioned and comes at a time when the players would not be involved in any other hockey.

Apart from being played in four 17-minute quarters rather than the conventional two 35-minute halves, there has been no tinkering with the rules.

Matches will be played on a home and away basis with the top qualifier going directly into the final. The next three teams will enter playoffs to find the other finalist.

Four franchises, in Lucknow, Punjab, Ranchi and Delhi, have already been signed. The remaining two are likely to come from Chennai and either Mumbai or Bangalore.

So impressed with what the league is likely to offer, television giant ESPN Star Sports has signed a five-year deal to show the matches.

India League
* January 5 to February 3.
* 144 players.
* Six franchises (24 players each including maximum 10 internationals).
* Broadcast partner: ESPN (signed for five years).