Vantage Black Sticks Womens head coach Mark Hager has named his strongest team to compete at the FIH World League Semi Final in Belgium next month.

New Zealand will battle it out against some of the worlds best sides from 21 June - 2 July at the Stade Fallon in Brussels.

The Black Sticks are joined in Pool B by hosts Belgium, Oceania champions Australia, Spain and Malaysia while Pool A includes reigning world champions Netherlands, Asian champions Korea, China, Scotland and Italy.

Split across two events, 10 teams will take part in Brussels with another 10 competing at the World League Semi Final in Johannesburg from 8-23 July.

With qualification at stake for the FIH World League Final in Auckland this November (New Zealand have automatic qualification as hosts), both Semi Final events also serve as World Cup qualifiers.

Whilst vital FIH Hero World Ranking points will be awarded depending on final standings, the top teams from each Semi Final will qualify for the 2018 Womens Hockey World Cup in London.

Its an experienced side with 10 players having played more than 100 tests while versatile player Stacey Michelsen spearheads the group with 224 caps.

Many players have earned their spot after impressing during Februarys Argentina tour, the Hawkes Bay Cup and the recent Indian series in Pukekohe and Hamilton which the Black Sticks swept 5-0.

Hager said the depth within the group presented some tough selection decisions.

"This is the strongest team we have at present after tests against Argentina, the Hawkes Bay Cup and also the Indian series this year," he said.

"There were some very challenging decisions in selecting the final group which shows we have healthy depth at the moment which is great following an Olympic year.

"We know the World League Semi Final will be very tough and it offers the top level competition we need to play amongst to continue developing. Well be pushing for a top performance with the ultimate goal to come away having qualified for the World Cup."

New Zealands opening game at the World League Semi Final is against Spain on Thursday June 22 at 6am (NZT). All Vantage Black Sticks games will be broadcast live on SKY Sport.

VANTAGE BLACK STICKS WOMEN

FIH World League Semi Final, Belgium

SHIRT # / PLAYER NAME / REGION / POSITION / AGE / CAPS

13 / Sam CHARLTON / Midlands / Defender / 25 / 188

20 / Natasha FITZSIMONS / Midlands / Defender / 28 / 75

3 / Erin GOAD / North Harbour / Defender / 23 / 28

27 / Jordan GRANT / Canterbury / Midfielder / 26 / 70

12 / Ella GUNSON / Northland / Defender / 27 / 157

2 / Sam HARRISON / Auckland / Striker / 25 / 113

26 / Pippa HAYWARD / Canterbury / Defender / 26 / 132

24 / Rose KEDDELL / Midlands / Defender / 23 / 151

11 / Rachel McCANN / Canterbury / Midfielder / 24 / 51

4 / Olivia MERRY / Canterbury / Striker / 25 / 161

31 / Stacey MICHELSEN / Northland / Defender / 26 / 224

9 / Brooke NEAL / Northland / Defender / 24 / 111

15 / Grace OHANLON / TBC / Goalkeeper / 24 / 10

18 / Kirsten PEARCE / North Harbour / Striker / 26 / 82

6 / Amy ROBINSON / Midlands / Striker / 21 / 21

8 / Sally RUTHERFORD / Midlands / Goalkeeper / 35 / 139

25 / Kelsey SMITH / Capital / Striker / 22 / 46

16 / Liz THOMPSON / Auckland / Defender / 22 / 141

19th PLAYER - TRAVELLING WITH TEAM

5 / Frances DAVIES / Midlands / Defender / 20 / 14


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