New Vantage Black Sticks Mens head coach Darren Smith has named a young and exciting team to take on Pakistan in Wellington and Wairarapa next month.

Four players will suit up for the first time with Mac Wilcox, Nick Elder, Cam Hayde and Jonty Keaney set to compete in the series from 17-23 March.

The event, which serves as the Black Sticks first competition for 2017, will see three tests at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington (17, 18, 20 March) and two games at Trust House Hockey Wairarapa in Clareville (22 and 23 March).

Balancing out the young talent is an experienced core led by defender/midfielder Arun Panchia (205 tests), defender Nick Haig (200) and hometown striker Stephen Jenness (173).

Smith said he was looking forward to the series and setting a benchmark ahead of an important year which sees World Cup qualification on the line at the FIH World League Semi Final in South Africa.

"This is a very exciting side including some great young talent who have a good opportunity to test themselves against a hard-nosed opponent in Pakistan.

"Pakistan will be a quick and aggressive attacking team so we will need to be on our game and were looking forward to the challenge.

"Its fantastic to be able to once again bring top international hockey to the community and I know Wellington and Wairarapa will be brilliant hosts."

Experienced players Blair Hilton, Hugo Inglis, Jacob Smith, Jared Panchia, Marcus Child, Shea McAleese, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant and Nic Woods are playing club hockey in Europe and were unavailable for selection while Simon Child, George Muir and Hayden Phillips are sidelined through injury.

Tickets for all five games are on sale now through the Black Sticks website (www.blacksticks.co.nz)

VANTAGE BLACK STICKS MEN vs PAKISTAN - MATCH SCHEDULE

National Hockey Stadium, Wellington

Friday 17th March - Game 1 - 6:30pm

Saturday 18th March - Game 2 - 4:30pm

Monday 20th March - Game 3 - 7:00pm

Trust House Hockey Wairarapa, Clareville

Wednesday 22nd March - Game 4 - 6:30pm

Thursday 23rd March - Game 5 - 6:30pm


- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Hockey NZ