Hockey: Neal, Shaw get Glasgow call up

Shay Neal in action for the Black Sticks. Photo /Getty Images
Shay Neal in action for the Black Sticks. Photo /Getty Images

Shay Neal and Brad Shaw have received the call up from Black Sticks coach Colin Batch for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow while Devon Manchester will be the sole goalkeeper in the team of sixteen captained by veteran Dean Couzins.

Ranked third in the Commonwealth, Batch said that the competition at last month's World Cup and training together in Auckland has meant the team is well prepared and the players are looking forward to getting the Games underway.

"We are in good shape, this is an experienced side and the team has been working hard. The aim is to return with a medal and I believe this is achievable if we perform to our best," said Batch.

Dean Couzins and Phil Burrows are both heading for their fourth Commonwealth Games and the team will be aiming to secure hockey's fifth Commonwealth medal.

Neal, aged 24, is Batch's bolter in the team, making an impressive recovery having had a serious hip operation in November.

Having been off the turf for a year, Neal is pleased that his dedicated approach to rehabilitation has paid off with Batch saying he is looking forward to having the skilled, fit striker back on the turf.

Having been to the World Cup as a reserve, Neal can see how much the team has improved and believes that having had so much competition this year the side is poised to get a great result in Glasgow.

"The team has been together through this year's World League Final, Champions Challenge, World Cup and now training together in Auckland - so the Commonwealth Games is the last competition of the year and if we can learn from the World Cup and build on that, I think we will do really well," said Neal.

"To be honest it isn't until the team is named and people start congratulating you that you realise this event means so much to New Zealanders, it is starting to sink in now and I'm getting pretty excited."

Shaw is the other inclusion since the World Cup and with 150 test caps and two Commonwealth Games already under his belt, Batch says the talented defender has been training extremely hard and offers the side exceptional experience when it comes to major events.

The team has one more week of training in Auckland before they have a couple of days rest and recovery prior to departing for Glasgow on the 15 July.

The New Zealand Men are in Pool B and play Canada at 8am on Friday 25 July, Trinidad and Tobago at 8pm on Saturday 26 July, England at 8pm on Wednesday 29 July and Malaysia at 10pm on Thursday 31 July. The semifinals are from 11.15pm on Saturday 2 August with medal matches on Sunday 3 August from 9am. (All times are in NZ time.)

New Zealand men's hockey squad for the Commonwealth Games
Nick Haig, Andy Hayward, Simon Child, Dean Couzins, Blair Hilton, Bradley Shaw, Marcus Child , Phil Burrows, Alex Shaw, Devon Manchester, Blair Tarran, Shay Neal, Arun Panchia, Shea McAlees, Hugo Inglis, Steve Edwards.

- NZ Herald

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