8 Sep 2015

Hockey secures warmup games for Oceania Cup series'

9:54 am on 8 September 2015

The New Zealand men's and women's hockey teams have secured some top games ahead of the respective Oceania Cup series' against Australia.

The Black Sticks Women will face Argentina and the Black Sticks Men will take on India in early October with games to be hosted in Blenheim, Nelson and Christchurch.

The Black Sticks' player Anita Punt in action.

The Black Sticks' player Anita Punt in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The women have already qualified for next year's Olympics, while the men must beat Australia in the Oceania series to get to Rio.

The Women play their first two games in Blenheim (October 3rd and 4th) before travelling to Nelson where they play their third test against Argentina and the Black Sticks Men play two tests against India (October 6th and 7th). The final weekend is in Christchurch where there is a double header on the Friday with the Men playing their fourth and final test on Sunday.

It's the second time that Argentina women have been to New Zealand this year - they were here in April for games in Gisborne and for the Hawke's Bay Festival. India men last visited New Zealand six years ago when they played two tests in Auckland and Wellington.

The Black Sticks' Andy Hayward in action.

The Black Sticks' Andy Hayward in action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Black Sticks Men's head coach Colin Batch says to have India visit is a real coup and will provide his side with invaluable build up ahead of the Oceania Cup later in October, which is the last Olympic qualifying event for the Black Sticks Men.

"The biggest thing for us is having good competition in the build-up to a tournament. We last played in June and we identified that it was important for us to secure competition before Oceania Cup - so this series will be good preparation," said Batch.

"The team selected could be significantly different, so having four international tests before we face Australia will help."

Hockey New Zealand chief executive Malcolm Harris said that although there are obvious high performance objectives in hosting home tests, the events have a wider impact on the growth of the sport.

"Our event strategy to take international games to regional New Zealand has become a proven way for us to help develop the profile, participation, and commercial model for international tests," says Harris.

"The communities we go to are extremely supportive and both the teams and fans love the experience."

The Black Sticks Women have never played in Blenheim before, and the New Zealand Men have only ever played one test back in 1958 against Australia.

Nelson and Christchurch hosted the Black Sticks Men vs Canada internationals at the end of last year, but they have never hosted an official international test on the women's side.

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