TRUST is a word that crops up quite frequently in the interview for Black Sticks goalkeeper Georgia Barnett.

But thankfully she doesn't have to look too far for reinforcement every time she strolls on to the turf because her father, Simon, of Palmerston North, makes field hockey goalkeeping equipment.

"He's been making it since I was born so it's a bit ironic," said the 20-year-old Central Mysticks player yesterday whose parents manufacture Obo gear.

"Hey, it would be pretty bad if I didn't use it because I'll probably get kicked out of home," a jovial Barnett said before they play Japan at 7.30pm today at the Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park in the opening round of the Hawke's Bay Cup hockey tournament.


No doubt, as Barnett eloquently put it that it's kind of human nature to not want to assume the mantle of goalkeeper where people tend to have more shots than patrons at a tequila bar.

"It comes at 100km an hour but it never really bothered me, really," the Black Sticks keeper said yesterday at the team's Napier hotel.

"The further you go up, the harder people hit and you do get a little scared of the ball. It's human nature but I signed up for the job."

The former Palmerston North Intermediate School pupil was playing football as a midfielder but in 2009 she ruptured her ACL.

"That's when I made a full switch to hockey so I've been playing completely since 2010," said Barnett who stepped in when the school XI desperately needed a goalkeeper.

"Obviously coming from a football background I could kick the ball well with foot-eye co-ordination so I guess that's just how it happened," she said with a grin, revealing she played only once in the field position and scored a goal.

In a sport that offers a glossy-cover magazine image and prime-time sport TV time, it begs the question why the former Palmerston North Girls' High School student would pick a position that requires them to cover protective gear from head to toe?

"I was like 13 and so I had no idea and I didn't care," the 20-year-old from Manawatu said with a laugh.

Her mother played hockey while her dad was into long-distance running and tennis although neither coached her hockey but she is grateful for their support "because I definitely couldn't do all this without them".

She is indebted to ex-Black Stick men's keeper, Kyle Pointfex, coach/Central Mavericks keeper Steffen Fastier, of Hawke's Bay, and Dutch goalkeeping coach Martijn Drijver, for helping her hone her skills.

As she found incremental gains in her game through age groups, it occurred to Barnett she could make a career out of the code at an international level.

The Massey University student is pursuing a degree in business studies extramurally from this year and has an eye on the Rio Olympics next year but felt it could be a hard task when young.

Barnett stood out on Wednesday in their 7-1 drubbing at the hands of defending champions Argentina in Gisborne. She only conceded two goals in the first half.

"I"m happy with how I've played but if you let in two goals then obviously there are things you can improve on, although I might not have stopped them," she said but when the ball sneaks through she is resigned to "[stuff] happens".

Barnett feels the goalkeepers have a pivotal role to play in the team, just like other teammates in front of her on the field.

First year in the senior national squad, she has played an elite level in the Junior World Cup as well as the Youth Olympics.

She comes into the fray ahead of No1 keeper Sally Rutherford (fractured big toe) and Amelia Gibson (broken collarbone).

So how will the New Zealanders come back from the Gisborne massacre?

"Well, we think it's a good experience for us and a good challenge to come back from it because we're a much better side than 7-1 and we know that, so it's kind of enhancing that loss and adding fuel to the fire," she said as they play the Las Leonas at 5.30pm tomorrow.

"It's about really working hard to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we're ranked fourth in the world for a reason," she said, revealing the hosts had put it down to an aberration and something no team was immune to.

The game is centred around creating chances so she is quick to remind the Black Sticks faithful the day before the Gisborne flogging they had pipped the Argies 1-0.

"I guess the more you get to play a team the more you get to know about them so we'll look at the footage and work out how to beat them in the end."

Barnett said coach Mark Hager had stressed the significance of doing the basics well.

Having played the Canada series had helped the Black Sticks immensely but the fact that they were not "centralised" meant any time they got on the turf it was an opportune time to find a sense of cohesiveness.

The Hawke's Bay Cup, here for the next nine days, will become a timely platform to fine-tune those skills with the Rio Olympic qualifiers beckoning in winter.

"It's such a good opportunity to play, you know, some of the best teams in the world - virtually the top eight in the world bar a few here - and it's cool to have it in New Zealand to test ourselves against them."

Going to out to win the tournament in its second year is on the top of their agenda.

"That's our ultimate goal here but it's certainly a stepping stone towards the qualifiers."

With Australia, Argentina, the United States, and the Asian nations bringing myriad philosophies, she said it was imperative the Kiwis adapt quickly.

"Every team poses some sort of threat and challenge," she said, evident in the inaugural tourney last here here when they stumbled 2-1 to China, which resulted in denting their hopes of making it to the final.

They faced the hurdle of overcoming this year's top seed, the world No2 Aussies, in the crunch game to face Argentina, but came out on the wrong side of the ledger.

With a lot of Black Sticks coming through the age-group ranks together, Barnett said it was a great culture to be in right now.

Losing the calibre of defenders such as Kayla Whitelock (nee Sharland), New Zealand women's most-capped player, Emily Naylor, of Kereru, and midfielder Krystal Forgesson, no doubt leaves a vacuum to fill but they believe they have enough depth to address issues.

"We've got five players who have played over 100 games, so within that we've got heaps of experience with a lot of younger girls who have played over 50 games in the past year or so."

Punt's captaincy was instrumental in bringing out the best in the troops, especially the youthful brigade.

"Anita's a captain who shows - the first one to be doing things and leads by example so that's one of her biggest strengths.

"She has that attitude that everyone wants to follow because she's so hard-working and everyone's up for a challenge."

Barnett didn't envisage any problems with more rain forecast next week, considering some water provides better traction on the tier-one Unison Hockey Stadium turf.