Hockey: Black Sticks name squad for Rio

Anita Punt. Photo / Paul Taylor.
Anita Punt. Photo / Paul Taylor.

An impressive squad of 25 have been named by Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager to prepare for the Rio Olympics.

It is among the strongest groups named in recent times, with four players who have accumulated more than 200 internationals.

Experienced Central pair Kayla Whitelock and Emily Naylor have 498 caps between then, while Midlands attacker Gemma Flynn has 224 and pocket rocket midfielder Anita Punt has played 222.

Hager said selections had been tough, given the depth of players built up in the last few years.

"His is a really strong group of athletes who are vying for Rio Olympic selection later in the year. We have built great depth and healthy competition between all squad members," he said.

"The experience within this group will greatly benefit all players as they strive to become better and push hard for the final selection ahead of Rio.

"All squad members are looking forward to the challenge Rio will present and are excited about what opportunities will come over the next six months."

New Zealand, world ranked No 4, have two internationals against Canada coming up on March 27 and 28 in Hamilton, followed by the Hawkes Bay Cup, featuring eight of the world's leading nations, in Hastings, starting on April 2.

New Zealand women's squad for 2016:
Amelia Gibson, Charlotte Harrison, Julia King, Liz Thompson (Auckland), Georgia Barnett, Emily Naylor, Kayla Whitelock (Central), Sam Charlton, Natasha Fitzsimons, Gemma Flynn, Shiloh Gloyn, Rose Keddell, Sally Rutherford (Midlands), Jordan Grant, Pippa Hayward, Olivia Merry, Rachel McCann, Sophie Cocks (Canterbury), Ella Gunson, Brooke Neal, Stacey Michelsen (Northland), Kat Henry, Kirsten Pearce, Petrea Webster (North Harbour), Anita Punt (Capital).

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