Hockey: Punt returns for Black Sticks

Anita Punt during the final match against Argentina at the Hockey World League Final. Photo / Getty Images
Anita Punt during the final match against Argentina at the Hockey World League Final. Photo / Getty Images

Black Sticks Women's coach Mark Hager has named his team to compete at the Hawke's Bay Cup, along with two different line-ups for tests against Canada.

Fresh from their series win over world number two ranked Argentina, the Black Sticks look ahead to two matches against Canada in Hamilton over Easter and the Hawke's Bay Cup from 2-10 April in Hastings.

Two tests against Canada on Sunday Mar 27 and Monday March 28 will give the Black Sticks a timely warm-up before heading to the Hawke's Bay Cup where they will battle for the title against Australia, China, Korea, Japan, India, Ireland and Canada.

The team for the Hawke's Bay Cup includes four changes from the side which travelled to Mar del Plata for February's six test series against Argentina.

Midfielder Anita Punt, goalkeeper Sally Rutherford, striker Charlotte Harrison and defender Julia King all return for the Hawke's Bay Cup.

Hager said the tournament provides valuable experience and allows them to continue fine tuning player combinations.

"These upcoming tests are a chance for the entire squad to get some good hockey and in particular some of those who didn't come on the recent tour to Argentina," he said.

"We have developed a great deal of depth within our squad and now is the opportunity for players to put their hand up and stake a claim.

"At this stage we are still looking to find the perfect balance and combination of players for that crucial selection of 16 players for Rio."

During the Hawke's Bay Cup there will be some significant milestones reached with Harrison and Stacey Michelsen likely to eclipse 200 tests for the Black Sticks, while Liz Thompson is approaching her 100th cap.

- NZ Herald

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