Hockey: Shea McAleese returns to captain Black Sticks

By David Leggat

Shea McAleese in full cry against South Africa. Photo / Dirk Markgraf
Shea McAleese in full cry against South Africa. Photo / Dirk Markgraf

Fresh from their first win over Australia since 1967, New Zealand are straight back into action at the International Festival of Hockey starting in Melbourne this week.

Four senior Black Sticks, who competed in the Rio Olympics but were unavailable for the transtasman series last week, return to the 18 - midfielders Shea McAleese, who will captain the side, and Arun Panchia, striker Hugo Inglis, and defender and penalty corner specialist Kane Russell.

World No 8 New Zealand will play games against world No 1 and hosts Australia, sixth-ranked India and Malaysia, ranked 14th, in a round robin ahead of finals day next Sunday.

New Zealand's 2-1 win in the final transtasman contest on Sunday broke a 49-year hoodoo on New Zealand soil against the Aussies, although Australia won the series 2-1.

Black Sticks coach Batch said the Ford-sponsored Trans-Tasman Trophy was a great stepping stone for his squad. Melbourne is another opportunity to continue progress.

''Playing consistently has been a big focus for us, and we haven't always been able to do that but we did that pretty well at Trans-Tasman," he said.

"We go to Melbourne determined to put together good performances in four games and certainly we are out there to win.

"It will be great to welcome back five players, four who have been playing in Europe, so they will be in good match form and we look forward to what they will add to the group."

New Zealand's opening game is against Malaysia on Wednesday night.

New Zealand squad:

Goalkeepers: Richard Joyce (North Harbour), George Enersen (Canterbury)

Defenders: Cory Bennett (North Harbour), Nick Haig (Canterbury), Kane Russell (Southern), Harry Miskimmin (Capital).

Midfielders: James Coughlan (North Harbour), Shea McAleese ©, Robert Creffier (Central), Arun Panchia (Auckland), Nick Ross (Southeren), Matt Rees-Gibbs (Midlands).

Strikers: Jared Panchia, Kim Kingstone (Auckland), Hugo Inglis (Southern), Stephen Jenness, Jacob Smith (Capital), Martin Atkinson (Central).

- NZ Herald

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