One Northlander takes a break, another steps into their role as the Black Sticks look for Tri Nations victory in Cromwell.

Captain Stacey Michelsen is taking a well-deserved break for the series, meaning fellow defender Ella Gunson is elevated to the head leadership role.

She is joined in the side with fellow Northlanders and Commonwealth Games gold medallists Brooke Neal, Sam Harrison and Madison Doar.

The Blacks Sticks will take on Japan and Australia as they ramp up their preparations for the Hockey World Cup, hosted by London in July.


They've made five changes to their gold medal side as well as having coach Mark Hager step aside for the tournament.

Still, Northland's core sans Michelsen remains intact after strong performances on the Gold Coast.

Neal said they've been working hard with both the Tri Nations and the World Cup on the upcoming calendar.

"We've been training really hard for the last few weeks to get ready for Cromwell," she said.

"We had a week off during the preparation which was really nice but then we were straight back into it.

"It's all looking forward to the World Cup in London."

The Northland five were allowed a break from preparations last week to return home for the Golden Parade, celebrating their exploits with their hometown supporters.

Doar, the youngest Black Stick at 18, said the parade was a crazy experience but now they're locked in for the Tri Nations.

"Seeing people from schools that we used to go to and knowing I was in their shoes just a few years ago was great to see," she said.

"It was really cool seeing everyone out here and the influence we've had on the Northland hockey community. Just knowing we've inspired the young players up here is awesome to see."

"The Tri Nations is going to be great down in Cromwell and then obviously the World Cup will be a great challenge."

Despite Hager not taking the lead coaching role for the series, he won't be completely missing as he'll look on from the sidelines.

Assistant coach Sean Dancer will take the reins as the Kiwi side looks to get another title over their trans-Tasman rivals.

He said injuries and rest will allow players great opportunities to push for future selection.

"We're looking forward to getting into action in Cromwell. We have a few injuries to senior players so it's a chance for some others to push for World Cup positions," he said.

"Australia and Japan will be tough opponents and we are welcoming the challenge of playing them again. This tournament presents a good preparation series on the way to the World Cup.

"It's another great opportunity to bring top class hockey to one of the smaller regions in New Zealand and we really appreciate and enjoy the support we get."

The Black Sticks' first match is tomorrow afternoon against Japan at 4.30pm.