The surface upgrade of Gonville Domain has the backing of three former Black Sticks, including Whanganui's own Robbie Matthews.

Matthews represented New Zealand from 1986 until 2000 and was the first New Zealand women player to reach 150 test caps (played 175 in total). She is now Hockey Wanganui operations manager and a key playmaker in the upgrade.

David Kosoof, business development manager for Tiger Turf, the company charged with construction and installation of the new surface, played 49 tests for the men's Blacks Sticks between 2000 and 2009, while Tiger Turf project manager Blair Hopping was in the national team between 2000 and 2012 - racking up an impressive 263 caps.

Both Kosoof and Hopping were of course hired by Tiger Turf for their experience and knowledge of playing surfaces. In fact, all three know exactly what is required and are heavily in favour of the water-based surface over the old sand-based system.


"The water-based system is a more user-friendly surface to not only grow our hockey playing numbers but it will help foster collaboration between other codes and offer an opportunity for multisport usage, which is really exciting for Whanganui," Matthews said.

Kosoof said the new surface would be exactly the same as the North Harbour surface that has hosted the latest internationals involving the men and women's Black Sticks.

"This is where I played most of my hockey at home and it is truly of international standard - Whanganui will be exactly the same," Kosoof said.

Hopping said the new surface would be streets ahead of anything most players would have stepped out on.

"This new surface will be streets ahead of the sand-based one and even the older generation water-based systems," he said.

"The players won't know themselves and it will be so adaptable and suitable for other sporting codes."