Emily Naylor may captain NZ

PETER LAMPP
Last updated 13:22 23/01/2013
Emily Naylor
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
BACK IN BLACK: Emily Naylor will resume her international career in Argentina next month.

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Emily Naylor's return to the Black Sticks might see her leading the team to Argentina next month.

The Manawatu player has had four months' furlough since the London Olympics to experience life outside hockey.

Coach Mark Hager has got her back for the quick two-week, five-test series in Rosario, and as the squad's most experienced player, she will be a leading contender to be captain.

Naylor didn't go so far as to say she was totally refreshed after her time away.

"I am enjoying my break," she said yesterday. "It has been a busy summer, getting back into work."

Before the Olympics, she wasn't sure if she would continue her New Zealand career into its ninth year.

"But since we did well, I was keen to stick with it for another year or so," she said.

Even with 203 caps to her name, Naylor is still aged only 27.

Her friend and previous co-captain Kayla Sharland won't return until May at the earliest. She is working for DB in Christchurch.

Krystal Forgesson and goalkeeper Bianca Russell are returning, among eight players from the Olympics and nine from the Indian series. Charlotte Harrison has opted out and will play club hockey in Belgium.

Naylor has been working long hours at Snap Fitness in Hastings as a personal trainer. "I need to get back into hockey training, so that will be a bit of a shock."

Her general fitness is fine; it will be her hockey fitness that needs work.

Manawatu's 19-year-old striker Michaela Curtis played five tests against India, and goalie Georgia Barnett one, but both knew they would be with the Junior Black Sticks for World Cup qualifying in Queensland next month.

Curtis was emailed last month and told she wasn't going to Argentina.

"I knew there were the Junior Black Sticks [games] coming up, so I was not too bothered," she said. "The qualifiers were on at the same time, so I couldn't do both."

All going well, she and Barnett will be at the Junior World Cup in Germany in June-July. To get there, they have to be in the top two from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

Hager said that although his side had a convincing series win over India in December, they would need to lift when they met world No 2 Argentina in four weeks.

BLACK STICKS

Emily Naylor (Central), Bridget Blackwood (Canterbury), Sam Charlton (Midlands), Gemma Flynn (Midlands), Krystal Forgesson (Auckland), Sian Fremaux (Canterbury), Amelia Gibson (Canterbury), Katie Glynn (Auckland), Rose Keddell (Midlands), Pippa Hayward (Canterbury), Olivia Merry (Canterbury), Stacey Michelsen (Northland), Anita Punt (Wellington), Cassandra Reid (Canterbury), Aniwaka Roberts (Wellington), Bianca Russell (North Harbour) GK, Petrea Webster (North Harbour). 

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- Manawatu Standard

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