Unchanged Black Sticks men's side for World Cup

Last updated 13:06 19/05/2014

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The New Zealand men's hockey squad has a settled look to it for the World Cup, which begins this month.

Coach Colin Batch has named an unchanged team from the one that competed in the Champions Challenge in Malaysia this month.

New Zealand won five of their six games at the tournament, but finished fifth overall after losing their quarterfinal clash with Malaysia in a penalty shootout.

Batch said while the team contained plenty of experience, the synergy within the team was building after every game.

"We now have some good experience as individuals, while as a team we are still learning a lot and have seen huge growth," Batch said.

"We don't feel we've reached anywhere near our peak yet and can improve substantially over the next few weeks."

The World Cup team is led by experienced veterans Dean Couzins and Phil Burrows, who have both played more than 300 tests for New Zealand.

Nine other players have eclipsed 100 tests, along with striker Simon Child, who recently played his 200th game atonly 26 years of age.

The team has had eight new players since the 2012 London Olympics, including some exciting young talent in Southern defender Kane Russell and Auckland striker Jared Panchia, who both played at the Junior World Cup in December last year.

Midfielder Shay Neal has recovered from a long-term hip injury and will travel with the team as 19th man in case of any last-minute injuries before the tournament begins.

The Black Sticks are joined in Pool B by hosts Netherlands, Germany, Korea, Argentina and South Africa.

New Zealand's best finish at a men's World Cup is seventh, which Batch's side will be determined to improve on.

"This is a huge tournament for us - we want to do well and are all very excited," he said.

"It's an important moment for the team and will give us a view for the next few years tracking towards the Rio Olympics in 2016."

NEW ZEALAND MEN'S SQUAD

Dean Couzins (c), Marcus Child, Simon Child, Devon Manchester, Arun Panchia, Jared Panchia (all Auckland), Hugo Inglis, Hamish McGregor, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant (Southern), Phil Burrows, Blair Hilton, Steve Jenness, Alex Shaw (Capital), Steve Edwards (North Harbour), Andy Hayward (Midlands), Nick Haig (Canterbury), Shea McAleese (Central)

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