27 Jun 2016

Disappointing pre-Rio hit out for Black Sticks

1:17 pm on 27 June 2016

The pressure of Olympic selection could have weighed down on some players at their final hit-out before Rio, the New Zealand Women's hockey team coach says.

Black Sticks Kayla Whitelock (L) and Olivia Merry celebrate a goal

Black Sticks Kayla Whitelock (L) and Olivia Merry celebrate a goal Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Black Sticks finished last at the six-team Champions Trophy in London after falling to a 4-3 loss to Great Britain this morning.

A hat-trick from Alex Danson helped Great Britain to win the match at the Olympic Park.

It has been a disappointing final major tournament before the Rio Olympics for the Black Sticks and was the last chance for players to make their case for Olympic selection.

New Zealand also lost to the Netherlands, Australia, and Argentina.

Coach Mark Hager said nerves could have affected some of the players.

"What you can't read too much into it is around just the pressure of selection and you hope once we pick the team that people will start to relax a little bit and things will come together and I'm pretty confident that it will. It's probably the hiccup that we needed because we've been on such a high for probably around about five or six months."

He said the tournament had exposed some defensive frailties that his side will need to address before Rio.

"When you look at the games that we lost we conceded three or more goals and you're not going to win games or tight games when you're doing that. That's something we've prided ourselves probably over the last 12 months and unfortunately this tour we got a bit of an eye opener it showed us quite a few weaknesses that we need to work on."

Hager will sit down with other selectors later this week to pick the team for Rio, which will then be ratified by the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

Hager said there were some quality players missing through injury and he was confident the depth was there to compete with the heavyweights in Rio.

He said it was a timely wake-up call after the team had been on a high for six months, with a string of good performances, including a runner up finish at the World League Final last year.

"That will drive the girls on even more to pay attention to detail and make sure it doesn't happen again. The problem is with our game is if your off by 10 percent in your game then these teams will punish you and that's what happened on this trip."

Argentina lifted the Champions Trophy for the seventh time after beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the final.

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