14 Jul 2009

Top names return for Black Sticks

6:07 am on 14 July 2009

The New Zealand men's hockey coach Shane McLeod has been able to name his strongest squad to meet Malaysia next month, in their final preparation for the vital

Oceania Cup in Invercargill a week later.

With all of McLeod's top level choices now back from playing European club hockey McLeod has put together an enlarged 20-strong squad built around a very strong core of experienced players.

Those back from Europe include Dean Couzins, Hayden Shaw, Ryan Archibald, Phil Burrows, Ben Collier and Kyle Pontifex.

One further internationally rated player, defender Blair Hopping, also returns from a break.

The squad includes three players from the successful Junior Black Sticks side which finished fourth at the recent Junior World Cup... Simon Child, who captained the side and was named Player of the Tournament, plus Arun Panchia and Nick Wilson.

Malaysia are ranked eight places behind New Zealand at 16th in the world, but are regarded

as an up-and-coming men's hockey nation.

Two tests will be played in Palmerston North, 2 in Napier and one in Taupo.