Women’s Black Sticks co-captain Kayla Sharland will continue her international hockey career.
Coach Mark Hager has announced an extended 35-player squad ahead of November’s national trials, with 13 of 16 players who helped New Zealand to fourth at London 2012 pledging to carry on.
Experienced Sharland, who has battled injury recently, will return with fellow senior players Emily Naylor, Krystal Forgesson and Bianca Russell.
Olympians Cathryn Finlayson, Clarissa Eshuis, Melody Cooper and national squad member Lucy Talbot have said they are unavailable for 2013.
The quartet said they are not retiring, but wish to pursue other options, such as study and employment.
Hager, who has turned the world’s 12th best side to the fringe of an Olympic medal in just under four years, said he is pleased to have the option of retaining so many key players.
“It is great to have a core group of players keen to continue, but it is equally as pleasing to see the new talent coming through,” Hager said.
“There are a number of new faces and they are all proving that they have real potential.”
The group will start training this month, though Olympians Sharland, Naylor, Forgesson and Russell will have an extended break, joining the side in early 2013.
“These four players have said they are keen to keep playing, but right now they need a break and I am keen for them to take it,” Hager said.
“The next major competition for us isn’t until June when we will compete in the new world league, so now is a good time.” Co-captain Sharland said the success of the team in London helped inspire her to keep playing.
“The success at the Olympics has given me that motivation,” Sharland said.
“I have really enjoyed being part of the group and want to continue being part of the team in the future. I think it is exciting times.”
With seven Junior Black Sticks named in the wider senior squad, the initial group of 35 will be brought down to 25 after national trials on November 14-18.
The selectors are Hager, assistant coaches Chris Leslie and Greg Nicol and former Black Stick Di Te Awa.
WOMEN'S BLACK STICKS EXTENDED SQUAD
Bridget Blackwood, Samantha Charlton, Michaela Curtis, Rhiannon Dennison, Sophie Devine, Gemma Flynn, Krystal Forgesson, Sian Fremaux, Holly Gaskin, Amelia Gibson, Elizabeth Gifford, Katie Glynn, Jordan Grant, Ella Gunson, Charlotte Harrison, Samantha Harrison, Pippa Hayward, Kathryn Henry, Danielle Jones, Rosie Keddell, Julia King, Olivia Merry, Carli Michelsen, Stacey Michelsen, Alana Millington, Emily Naylor, Anita Punt, Aniwaka Roberts, Bianca Russell, Sally Rutherford, Kayla Sharland, Belinda Smith, Jenny Storey, Petrea Webster and Anna Wetherall.
- © Fairfax NZ News