New Zealand women's hockey coach Mark Hager says form made selection for the World League semifinal next month difficult.

Three teams provide the lions share of the Black Sticks squad for the tournament in Brussels.

The fifth-ranked side includes five players from the Waikato-based Midlands side, with four apiece coming from Northland and Canterbury. Ten players have more than 130 caps, headed by world-class defender-cum midfielder Stacey Michelsen, with 224 internationals.

The least-capped player is unattached goalkeeper Grace O'Hanlon, who has been based in Australia but is now living in Auckland. She's won just 10 caps but edged out Auckland's Amelia Gibson for the second keeping job, alongside Sally Rutherford.


Hager has given all his players decent match time recently to put their case for selection. The world No 5 Black Sticks won the Hawkes Bay Cup in Hastings in April, then beat India 5-0 in their most recent series which ended last weekend. "There were some very challenging decisions in selecting the final group which shows we have healthy depth at the moment which is great following an Olympic year," Hager said.

New Zealand will host the world league final in Auckland in November so don't need to worry about qualifying. However they should do well in the 10-nation tournament.

Their pool matches are against Spain (ranked 10), Australia (4), Belgium (14) and Malaysia (22) before quarter-finals, semis and final playoffs.

New Zealand women's squad for the World League semifinal:

Goalkeepers: Grace O'Hanlon (unattached), Sally Rutherford (Midlands)

Defenders/Midfielders: Sam Charlton, Natasha Fitzsimons, Rose Keddell (Midlands), Erin Goad (North Harbour), Ella Gunson, Stacey Michelsen, Brooke Neal (Northland), Liz Thompson (Auckland), Pippa Hayward, Jordan Grant, Rachel McCann (Canterbury).

Strikers: Kelsey Smith (Capital), Sam Harrison (Auckland), Kirsten Pearce (North Harbour), Olivia Merry (Canterbury), Amy Robinson (Midlands). Travelling reserve: Frances Davies (Midlands).