Couzins: World Cup positives for Black Sticks

DEAN COUZINS
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014
Dean Couzins
Photosport
DEAN COUZINS: "We were aiming to finish higher and as we went into the tournament ranked sixth, we absolutely wanted to do better than seventh."

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OPINION: Seventh wasn't as high as we were hoping for at the World Cup, but there were a lot of positives in our play that make me think that - with some intense training - we're a real chance at performing well at the Commonwealth Games next month.

I'm in Ireland having a very quick break before we come back and dive head first into our Games preparation and my mind keeps flicking back to the World Cup.

We were aiming to finish higher and as we went into the tournament ranked sixth, we absolutely wanted to do better than seventh, but there were a heap of positives to take out of the event for us.

I've racked my brain looking for any changes we could have made in our preparation but this tournament felt different. We ticked all the boxes and I really believe we gave it our best shot.

Game after game we put out a consistent performance, which is something we've struggled with, so that's a really big positive. We also defended with a lot of heart and desperation at times.

There's no doubt the third match against Argentina, which we lost 3-1, stands out as a big disappointment to us. After winning our first two games against Korea and South Africa, we had a chance at being on nine points after three games and being well placed to progress.

It was just the small things that cost us. We had just as many PCs and had more shots on goal, actually all the stats were in our favour. Except the scoreline.

The seventh-eighth playoff against Spain was a big deal to us to. We won it in a shootout but we created a lot of chances and that's not something we've been able to do against Spain in the past. In fact, I've only ever beaten them once before that game.

So now our focus moves to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The technical areas will be a focus. We won't be able to move mountains as we have only a few weeks, but if we can tighten up a few things, especially on attack, where I think we need to protect the ball better in our receiving in the top third, then we'll be in good shape.

Our bloody-mindedness to defend really well has come a long way and will need to continue to be a feature at the Games. Although they aren't considered a pinnacle event compared to the World Cup and the Olympics, they're a huge event.

We grew up watching the Games and it's that team-within-a-team aspect that really appeals. You're part of the Black Sticks, but also part of the greater New Zealand team and from watching it as a kid, you have a real connection to it.

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We'll go into the Games ranked third in behind Australia and England, but we know winning a medal isn't going to be easy. But when you play at this level, you want something to show for your hard work, time, and sacrifice.

This side has had a lot of time together and I firmly believe we're growing and on an upswing. It's crucial we keep that momentum going with a good showing in Glasgow and to reward ourselves. We've got to have a really steely, tough determination in key games.

And that all starts when we get back to training soon and working hard.

The Games means a lot to us so we'll be giving it our all from our first day back at training.

- Stuff

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