Gemma McCaw has opened up about the "challenges" of juggling motherhood and her return to the Black Sticks.

McCaw, who retired from international hockey after having her first child Charlotte with husband Richie, was named in the Black Sticks' squad last week as the team builds towards the 2020 Olympics.

Speaking to Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave, McCaw said she came out of retirement because she has "unfinished business" with the Black Sticks.

"A little tiny part of me felt that there was a little bit of unfinished business – a disappointing way to finish in Rio," McCaw said.

Advertisement

"I felt like I really missed getting out there with the girls and playing the sport that I always loved. I filled in for a club hockey game when Charlotte was four months old and I kind of crossed the line out onto the field and I had that white line fever again.

"That's where it all started. I was fortunate enough to play NHL and then some time in the Aussie league and that's when I guess I started to get a little bit more serious about it and think 'I would actually love to play again at that high level'.

"A year ago just before having Charlotte I didn't think I'd probably be lining up back in the team. But [I'm] grateful for the opportunity and very excited with the year ahead and what's to come."

Gemma McCaw in action for Midlands. Photo / Photosport
Gemma McCaw in action for Midlands. Photo / Photosport

McCaw said returning to fitness and training while after being a mother for the first time has been "tough".

"I guess that's probably the biggest challenge that I've had to face so far … you're put right back to square one once you have a baby. And you virtually don't have much fitness.

"I went from being able to exercise rigorously and train really hard to not being able to do much. And as you know babies need feeding every few hours on that schedule. So that was hard and I guess that was the difficult thing to balance was the feeding and the training and the sleeping, and getting all of that into a good routine.

"The physical side was tough but I started with small steps and just continued to work when I could. And probably being a mum you just train a little bit smarter. You don't have hours on end, so you have to get in and just do as well as you can. And it gives you that perspective as well."

While McCaw admits getting back to peak physical condition will take "a little bit of work", she is confident she'll be able to get back to her best.

Advertisement

"I think it's possible. As we see, there's lots of female athletes that have had a baby and come back and often people say a little bit stronger as well.

"I've had that experience of motherhood which doesn't ever stop. So that's probably a little bit harder than a game of hockey."