The men's Black Sticks are approaching their busiest period of the year with intrigue.

New Zealand's returned from Malaysia, having finished fourth at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The team will get together for a two-day planning camp in Auckland, before flying to the Gold Coast for eight days for a Commonwealth Games reconnaissance trip.

Coach Darren Smith says they'll then turn their attention to a three match series against Belgium in Antwerp before the World League semi-finals in South Africa.

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He says it's pretty hectic and will be interesting to see how the team bonds on the road.