Two Hawke's Bay sports personalities at opposite ends of the Commonwealth Games experience scale have this week been selected for the 20th edition of the Games which begin in Glasgow this month.
A day after Sevens star and Hawke's Bay's 2014 Sportsperson of the Year Gillies Kaka was predictably named in the 12-strong All Black Sevens team, Hawke's Bay hockey player Shea McAleese was yesterday selected in the Black Sticks men's team.
While Kaka, 24, a two-time World Series winner and a one-time World Cup winner will be appearing at the Games for the first time McAleese, 29, will play at his third Commonwealth Games after playing at the 2006 and 2010 editions.
McAleese, who has played more than 200 games for the Black Sticks, has also played at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Kaka, the 2013 Ngati Kahungunu Sportsperson of the Year, will be aiming to continue his recent run of top form to remain on track for his long-term goal - selection for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Shay Neal and Brad Shaw have received the call-up from Black Sticks coach Colin Batch for the Games in Glasgow, while Devon Manchester will be the sole goalkeeper in the 16-strong team captained by veteran Dean Couzins. The Kiwis are ranked third in the Commonwealth.
Batch said that the competition at last month's World Cup and training together in Auckland had meant the team was well prepared and the players were looking forward to getting the Games under way.
"We are in good shape. This is an experienced side and the team has been working hard. The aim is to return with a medal and I believe this is achievable if we perform to our best," said Batch.
Couzins and Phil Burrows are heading for their fourth Commonwealth Games and the team will be aiming to secure hockey's fifth Commonwealth medal.
Neal, 24, is Batch's bolter in the team, making an impressive recovery having had a serious hip operation in November.
The team have one more week of training in Auckland before a couple of days' rest and recovery before departing for Glasgow on July 15.
The Black Sticks Men are in Pool B and play Canada at 8am on Friday, July 25, Trinidad & Tobago at 8pm on Saturday, July 26, England at 8pm on Wednesday, July 29, and Malaysia at 10pm on Thursday, July 31. The semifinals are from 11.15pm on Saturday, August 2, with medal matches on Sunday, August 3, from 9am. (All times NZ time.)
The All Black Sevens will be aiming for a fifth successive Commonwealth Games gold and features three players who won in Delhi - captain DJ Forbes, Sherwin Stowers and Tim Mikkelson. Another feature is the return of North Harbour's Pita Ahki who played in the World Cup-winning team last year and Waikato's Declan O'Donnell from two shoulder operations.
Kaka and co will meet Canada, Scotland and Barbados in pool play.
The full All Black Sevens team is: Pita Ahki (North Harbour), Scott Curry (Manawatu), Sam Dickson (Canterbury), DJ Forbes, captain (Counties Manukau), Bryce Heem (Tasman), Akira Ioane (Auckland), Gillies Kaka (Hawke's Bay), Ben Lam (Auckland), Tim Mikkelson (Waikato), Declan O'Donnell (Waikato), Sherwin Stowers (Counties Manukau), Joe Webber (Waikato).