Hockey: New faces get their opportunity

Defender/Midfielder Arun Panchia. Photo / Andrew Warner
Defender/Midfielder Arun Panchia. Photo / Andrew Warner

It's a fluid time for the New Zealand men's hockey team.

With a raft of experienced players involved in European club hockey, and three others unavailable through injury, including national skipper Simon Child, four new caps are in the New Zealand men's hockey team to face Pakistan in a three-test series next month.

Canterbury striker Cam Hayde, Southern's Nick Elder, Midlands striker Jonty Keaney and Central attacker Mac Wilcox will get their first opportunity in the series which includes three tests in Wellington on March 17, 18 and 20, and two in Clareville, Wairarapa on March 22 and 23. The series is the Black Sticks' first this year, and the first on new national coach Darren Smith's watch.

"This is a very exciting side including some great young talent,," former international Smith said.

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).

New Zealand are ranked No 8 in the world, while Pakistan, once among the powers of world hockey, are at No 14.

"Pakistan will be a quick and aggressive attacking team so we will need to be on our game and we're looking forward to the challenge," Smith added.

New Zealand squad: Cory Bennett, James Coughlan, Richard Joyce (North Harbour), Kin Kingstone, Arun Panchia, Devon Manchester (Auckland), David Brydon, George Enersen, Nick Haig, Cam Hayde, Sam Lane, Dominic Newman (Canterbury), Rob Creffier, Mac Wilcox (Central), Nick Elder, Nick Ross (Southern), Alex Shaw, Harry Miskimmin, Stephen Jenness (Capital), Jonty Keaney, Leo Mitai-Wells (Midlands).

- NZ Herald

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