Drag-flick specialist Andy Hayward sidelined

MATT RICHENS IN GLASGOW
Last updated 06:04 23/07/2014
Andy Hayward
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
HOBBLED: Black Sticks drag-flick specialist Andy Hayward with a moon-boot on his left foot watches the team's practice session.

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It's a dangerous time being an important member of New Zealand hockey teams.

A day after the women's team had to play a Commonwealth Games warm-up match without influential captain Kayla Whitelock because of a whack to the arm in training, the men's side were without world-class drag-flicker Andy Hayward.

It was initially worrying signs at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre with Hayward, wearing a moon boot, forced to miss this morning's 3-2 win over India, but team management insist the protection was precautionary. 

Coach Colin Batch was confident Hayward would not only play in the side's opening game, against Canada on Friday (NZ time), but would also likely take part in training tonight.

"He's over-used a muscle in his shin. It came on pretty quick, but once we get it right we expect he'll have no more trouble."

The injury affects Hayward's leg most during his drag-flick which he used in last month's World Cup to great effect scoring two hat-tricks. 

Two slightly odd reasons have been offered for Hayward's issues; the soft Glasgow turf and plenty of walking around the Athletes' Village. 

Compared to the hard ground the men's team are used to at their North Harbour base, the Glasgow turf is softer and more spongy, according to the players.

"I know it sounds a bit wishy washy," Batch said. "But we do a lot of walking around the village. It's 500m from where we are to breakfast, and back, then 500m each way for lunch then dinner and it's all on hard ground. That added to it for Andy."

While Batch was sure he'd have his powerful goal scorer back, he said the side had plenty of other penalty corner options too if needed. 

New Zealand play Canada in their opener, then Trinidad and Tobago. They are ranked ahead of both sides and should come through with two wins with or without Hayward.

But his venom in front of goal will be needed when they take on their pool's top ranked side England, next Wednesday.

New Zealand and India were level at 1-1 for most of this morning's match before the Black Sticks looked to have pinched a winner with four minutes to go.

India quickly struck back to draw level again before the final flurry was finished with a third goal in three minutes, to New Zealand.

"We were far better than we were the other day against Wales [2-0 win]," Batch said.

"And that's good, we want to be getting better at this stage ahead of the Canada game."

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