Hockey: Under-strength Black Sticks named for trans-Tasman series

Olivia Merry celebrates scoring a goal at the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty Images
Olivia Merry celebrates scoring a goal at the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty Images

Black Sticks Women's head coach Mark Hager has named a side missing many big names for the inaugural Trans-Tasman Trophy in Auckland.

The team of 18 includes eight players in their first action since the Rio Olympics, along with plenty of young talent and two debutantes in Capital's Felicity Reidy and Kim Tanner of Midlands but is missing regulars like Anita Punt, Gemma Flynn and Charlotte Harrison.

The tournament also sees the return of several athletes who have seen limited action of the past few years such as Samantha Harrison, Michaela Curtis and Jenny Storey.

Coach Hager said it's the first step in the next Olympic cycle leading into the 2020 Tokyo Games.

"It's a fresh start for us after a tough Rio campaign and we have eight players who played there and are keen to get straight back to business," he said.

"We've named a high quality group for the Trans-Tasman Trophy with plenty of players who have the opportunity to showcase their skills and put pressure on some of the more senior athletes for places in next year's squad which will be named in December."

Northland's Stacey Michelsen is the most experienced in the team with 216 test caps while Olivia Merry, Pippa Hayward, Sally Rutherford and Liz Thompson have all played over 100 internationals.

Promising teenaged forwards Madison Doar (Auckland) and Samantha Polovnikoff (Northland) will also travel with the team as observers after impressing at the Ford National Hockey League.

"This series is a great learning experience for all our players against an opposition who is in a similar transitional phase after the Olympics.

"It's exciting to have two debutants with Felicity a genuine goal scoring threat up front and Kim a really quality defender who was a key player for Midlands during the NHL.

Black Sticks
Michaela Curtis, Natasha Fitzsimons, Amelia Gibson, Erin Goad, Jordan Grant, Samantha Harrison, Pippa Hayward, Rose Keddell, Rachel McCann, Olivia Merry, Stacey Michelsen, Kirsten Pearce, Felicity Reidy, Sally Rutherford, Kelsey Smith, Jenny Storey, Kim Tanner, Liz Thompson.

- NZ Herald

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