Black Sticks hoping to cash in at Indian auction
They won't be instant millionaires but New Zealand's top men's hockey players are queuing up for the sport's equivalent to cricket's Indian Premier League.
Nine Black Sticks will be among the 100-odd international players on the auction block on Wednesday for the new Hockey India League.
The six-team competition starts in January and has been sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation.
Drag flick expert Andy Hayward is one of the Kiwi hopefuls, along with Dean Couzins, Shea McAleese, Simon Child, Phil Burrows, Steve Edwards, Nick Wilson, Hugo Inglis and Hamish McGregor.
"There's a salary cap for each team of about NZ$800,000 spread over 24 players," Hayward said.
"So you're not going to get one million dollars like your Taylors and your McCullums with the cricket and you won't be retiring on it.
"But for hockey, the guys find it hard to get by from just playing hockey. In New Zealand, you're having to work as well."
Hayward said New Zealand's top players had previously been tempted by an Indian rebel league, World Series Hockey, that opened for business last year. But they were relieved they had instead played the waiting game.
"This league has been in the pipeline for a bit," Hayward said.
"Since the Olympics there's been a bit of word of mouth among the players and New Zealand Hockey has put us on to the right people to make sure we're going through the right channels and considering our options."
Each squad will comprise 10 imports and 14 Indian players, meaning about 40 internationals will miss the cut.
Hayward, a defender with 137 international caps and 49 goals to his name, has no idea what his chances are.
"You don't really know who they're going to choose, what type of player they want, strikers or guys with experience. It would help you out financially and also the experience would be pretty cool, so fingers crossed."
Included in the auction are 11 Australians, South African captain Austin Smith and German Olympic gold medallists Moritz Fuerste, Oliver Korn and Oskar Deecke.