Some of the North Island's best young hockey players are on display in Rotorua this weekend.
Under-21 men's and women's teams representing Midlands, Central and Capital will battle it out for the Easter Tri-Series title at the Rotorua hockey turfs from today to Sunday.
Midlands under-21 men's coach Joe Hanks said the tournament was a crucial part of pre-season preparation ahead of the national under-21 tournament at the end of April.
"It's good to get a couple of regional sides up here and get a measure of where we're at pre-nationals. [The level of competition] will be good this year, Central have a similar team to last year and Capital have had a young team for a couple of years so they're coming into their prime. It should be quite an even contest," Hanks said.
The Midlands men finished fourth at nationals last year.
"We've been going well, physically we're getting up there and in terms of preparation we had a draw with Auckland last week. We're confident with how we're placed at the moment and it will be interesting to see how we measure up this weekend."
The Midlands women won the Easter tournament last year before going on to win the national title for a second consecutive year. They were subsequently named Junior Sports Team of the Year at the 2017 bay of Plenty Sports Awards.
"The women's team has a different look this year, a lot of those girls moved on after last year. They've got a good group of young girls coming through this year though," Hanks said.
He said the tournament was an opportunity for locals to watch stars of the future in action.
"All three teams have players that are in or around New Zealand representative sides, so it will be a really good standard of hockey with some players who will more than likely represent New Zealand in a couple of years, if not later.
"It's a great opportunity to see some stars of the future. It will be good for the young players in Rotorua to go out and see where that representative pathway can lead."
Under-21 Hockey Easter Tri-Series draw
Women: Midlands v Central, 3pm
Men: Midlands v Central, 5pm
Women: Capital v Central, 12pm
Men: Capital v Central, 2pm
Women: Midlands v Capital, 11am
Men: Midlands v Capital, 1pm