Star striker Gemma Flynn will return from injury in Wellington tonight as the Black Sticks try to get back in the winner's circle.
Flynn (quad strain) has missed the last three tests of the six-game series against India, which New Zealand lead 3-0 after Wednesday night's 2-2 draw.
The jet-lagged Indians lost the opening game 7-2 but have since been more competitive than the world No 3 ranked hosts would like.
The return of Flynn, a member of the four-strong leadership group, should prove a welcome tonic for a tiring young side including eight international rookies.
"It's been very frustrating, I played a little bit of the first game but wasn't able to play the rest, so I've been itching to play, watching on the sidelines," Flynn said.
"It's quite an open style of game when we play the Indians so we're looking forward to putting a few in the back of the net."
Flynn said the Indians were skilful players: "Good dribblers and good tacklers so it always upsets our style a little bit. We can't afford to run the ball as much."
Like fellow Olympian Anita Punt (Capital), Flynn was still struggling to overcome the disappointment of losing the bronze medal game at the London Olympics.
"Our coach [Mark Hager] came fourth at an Olympics too and, however many years on, he's still not over it," Flynn said.
"So it's still disappointing but I guess it's motivation to get out of bed in the mornings and train for the next four years, to Rio."
Another member of the leadership group, Stacey Michelsen, said the team was determined to snap a trend of slow starts at the National Hockey Stadium tonight.
The midfielder didn't think complacency was an issue, but the rookies in the team were adjusting to the demands of a long, intense series.
"And the few of us that were in the Olympic campaign have had a little bit of time off so we're still definitely finding our touch," Michelsen said.
"But that's no excuse, we definitely need to be stepping it up and we haven't been performing. We've obviously got a lot of younger girls who are probably a little bit nervous. They have the ability to perform but we just haven't been doing that in the last few. We're really looking to come out with a strong performance."
Capital defender Aniwaka Roberts has been one of the more impressive new faces, while Canterbury's Sian Fremaux scored both goals in Wednesday's fourth test in Palmerston North.
- The Dominion Post
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