4 Sep 2009

Womens hockey coach retains successful squad

6:41 pm on 4 September 2009

The New Zealand womens hockey coach Mark Hager has retained the same squad that upset Australia to win the Oceania Cup last week for next month's Champions Challenge tournament in South Africa.

Promising young school girl striker Sam Harrison, has also been added to the squad to allow Hager to continue her development at international level.

Sam, the younger sister of Charlotte Harrison, debuted for the Black Sticks against China and Argentina in July.

The other teams at the Champions Challenge are Azerbaijan, Chile, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain and South Africa.

The winner of the tournament gains entry to the next Champions Trophy contested by the top six teams in the world.

Black Sticks Coach Mark Hager sees the tournament as good opportunity to continue growing the confidence of his still relatively inexperienced squad.

Three of the teams, Japan, Spain and Korea are ranked above New Zealand. The Black Sticks international ranking of 11, unfortunately did not change after the recent upset win over Australia in Invercargill.

The team will play three build-up matches against South Africa in Stellenbosch, near Capetown, before the tournament.

Before that the squad will be involved in playing for their regional National Hockey League teams.