2 Oct 2015

Pontifex back in Black Sticks squad

11:35 am on 2 October 2015

The Wellington goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex is back in the New Zealand men's hockey team, having last played for them at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Wellington and New Zealand hockey goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex

Wellington and New Zealand hockey goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Black Sticks coach Colin Batch has also named debutant striker Matt Rees-Gibbs is his squad.

Pontifex has 156 international caps - the 35-year-old debuted for the team 12 years ago.

Both players will be back in black over the upcoming months, with national selectors impressed by their performances at the recent National Hockey League held earlier this month in Whangarei.

Pontifex didn't concede any penalty corner goals throughout the tournament, leading the Capital side to victory for the first time since 2010.

"That's an outstanding record and speaks volumes of Kyle's skill and the impact he had on the team. He will bring a lot of experience to our defensive group," said Batch.

"Matt is a versatile player and has really earned an opportunity based on his performances over the last couple of years. He is very fit, has a good understanding of the game, and an ability to contribute and fit into the wider game plan," said Batch.

The next month will prove critical for the Black Sticks men as they build towards the Oceania Cup in Stratford, their final chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. They need to win the tournament, which means beating world No.1 Australia, as well as Fiji and Samoa.

To help prepare they take on eighth-ranked India next week, playing two games in both Nelson and Christchurch as part of the Black Sticks men's and women's South Island tour.

Players from the new squad will be rotated throughout the India Tests.

Andy Hayward, Phil Burrows and Shea McAleese made themselves unavailable due to European club commitments.

New Zealand (No. / Name / Province / Position / Age / Caps):

1 James Coughlan North Harbour Midfielder 25 34

4 Nick Haig Canterbury Defender 28 171

6 Simon Child (Capt) Auckland Midfielder 27 237

7 Nick Ross Southern Midfielder 25 19

9 Blair Hilton Capital Striker 26 149

10 Ryan Archibald Auckland Midfielder 35 291

12 Brad Shaw Canterbury Defender 32 160

13 Marcus Child Auckland Striker 24 80

14 Jared Panchia Auckland Striker 21 43

17 Nic Woods Midlands Midfielder 20 25

19 Alex Shaw Capital Defender 25 69

20 Devon Manchester Auckland Goalkeeper 25 62

21 Kane Russell Southern Defender 23 52

22 Blair Tarrant Southern Defender 25 133

24 Arun Panchia Auckland Defender 26 164

27 Stephen Jenness Capital Striker 25 135

28 Dwayne Rowsell Auckland Defender 23 25

29 Hugo Inglis Southern Striker 24 153

30 George Muir North Harbour Midfielder 21 38

31 Steve Edwards North Harbour Striker 29 199

32 Nick Wilson Central Striker 25 134

- Kyle Pontifex Capital Goalkeeper 35 156

- Matt Rees-Gibbs Midlands Striker 23 -