Experienced midfielder Shea McAleese is back in the New Zealand team to defend the Azlan Shah Cup men's hockey tournament in Malaysia in April.

McAleese last played for the Black Sticks nine months ago at the world league semifinal in Argentina. He adds more wisdom from his 221 caps to a quality core of players alongside veteran midfielder Ryan Archibald (306 caps) and captain Sikmon Child (253).

Central midfielder Hayden Phillips, who made a handy start to his international career in the recent 2-0 series win over Korea, gets his first overseas trip with the national squad.
Coach Colin Batch said the tournament is another opportunity to develop as a group with an eye on the Rio Olympic Games in August.

"We've given this group the opportunity to test themselves in a tough tournament situation and try to cement a spot for Rio," he said.


"However, there is still a chance for all players to stake their claim as we continue to try and discover the best combinations."

Batch said McAleese brings not only extra leadership to the group but a voice and organisation on the field.

McAleese joins the squad from Europe where he's been playing club hockey for Belgian side Braxgata.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back out on the turf with the Black Sticks and confident we can put together a good performance at the tournament," he said.
"There is great depth within the group right now and some impressive talent so we are looking forward to continuing our fine tuning to make sure we are at our peak come Rio," McAleese said.

New Zealand beat Australia in last year's final after a penalty shootout. The tournament runs from April 7-17.

The Black Sticks games will be broadcast live on Sky, starting on April 7 at 12.30am NZT.
New Zealand squad:

Simon Child, Ryan Archibald, Devon Manchester, Arun Panchia (Auckland), James Coughlan, George Muir (North Harbour), Hugo Inglis, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant (Southern), Stephen Jenness, Kyle Pontifex, Jacob Smith (Capital), Shea McAleese, Hayden Phillips, Nick Wilson (Central), Shay Neal (Northland), Nic Woods (Midlands), Bradley Shaw (Canterbury).