Four return to Black Sticks as Champions Trophy squad announced

By David Leggat

Gemma Flynn is one of four players returning to the Black Sticks after missing the Four Nations tournament. Photo / Getty Images
Gemma Flynn is one of four players returning to the Black Sticks after missing the Four Nations tournament. Photo / Getty Images

Senior New Zealand quartet Kayla Whitelock, Stacey Michelsen, Gemma Flynn and goalkeeper Sally Rutherford are back in the Black Sticks squad for the Champions Trophy six-nation tournament starting in London later this month.

All four missed the Four Nations tournament in Darwin, which New Zealand won on Saturday night, beating hosts Australia 2-0 in the final.

Michelsen was in the group in Darwin but withdrew to rest a niggly hamstring injury, while Rutherford sat the event out giving Amelia Gibson and Georgia Barnett a chance to vie for the job ahead of the Rio Olympic squad naming.

Both produced quality moments in Darwin, with Gibson getting the nod for London.

Whitelock, who has played 235 internationals, Flynn (231) and Michelsen (201) will bring an extra edge to New Zealand's attack in London, where world No 4 New Zealand will play games against the world's top three ranked nations, the Netherlands, Argentina and Australia, along with Britain and the United States, ranked sixth and seventh respectively.

New Zealand will be captained by a leadership group in London which includes Michelsen, Sam Charlton, Anita McLaren and Liz Thompson.

Head coach Mark Hager said the tournament against some of the world's best sides provides the last chance for players to step up for Olympic selection.

"We have built a great deal of depth within our squad and Olympic selection is still wide open. There were plenty of players who performed well in Darwin and that, along with Champions Trophy will be taken into consideration," Hager said.

"Champions Trophy will be a good gauge of where we're at, there are no easy games and that will help identify any weaknesses we need to tighten up in the last phase before Rio.

"We have proven that we can win big games against tough opposition so it's now about continuing to progress to ensure we peak at the right time."

New Zealand women's team for the Champions Trophy starting in London on June 19:

Goalkeepers: Sally Rutherford (Midlands), Amelia Gibson (Auckland)

Defenders: Liz Thompson (Auckland), Brooke Neal (Northland), Emily Gaddum (Central), Rose Keddell (Midlands), Sam Charlton (Midlands).

Midfielders: Anita McLaren (Capital), Kayla Whitelock (Central), Ella Gunson, Stacey Michelsen (Northland), Pippa Hayward (Canterbury),

Strikers: Sophie Cocks, Olivia Merry (Canterbury), Charlotte Harrison (Auckland), Petrea Webster, Kirsten Pearce (North Harbour), Gemma Flynn (Midlands).

New Zealand's schedule (NZT):

June 19: v Netherlands (world No 1), 3am

June 20: v Australia (3), 3am

June 22: v Britain (6), 7am

June 24: v Argentina (2), 1.30am

June 26: v United States (7) 1am.

June 27: Playoff games.

- NZ Herald

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