Black Stick Hopping retires from internationals
Black Stick Blair Hopping has announced his retirement after 13 years of international hockey.
The 32-year-old said although he will miss test hockey and the opportunities it brings, he is looking forward to spending less time on the turf and more time with his young family.
"Although I still love playing test matches, I have been struggling to motivate myself at trainings and for me that was a sign it was time to retire," says Hopping.
"I have to admit it was quite nice coming home after work last night and spending time with my family, rather than rushing to training," says Hopping who lives in Kumeu with his wife and their nine-month old son.
The defender is one of four players in New Zealand's history to have played more than 250 games, retiring from the international circuit with 264 caps.
He has attended two Commonwealth Games (Manchester and Melbourne), three World Cups (Malaysia, Germany and India) and three Olympics (Athens, Beijing and London).
Hopping's highlight was collecting a silver medal at the Manchester Commonwealth Games, in particular the semi-final where New Zealand beat Pakistan for the first time ever.
"The score was 7-1 and it was one of those games when everything just went right, it would be the best game I have ever played in.
"It was also amazing to play at Athens - it is the home of the Olympics, plus it was my first Olympic experience so that made it pretty special."
In between work and family, Hopping will follow the team closely and is hoping to get along to watch the side in any upcoming home tests.
"I'm not the greatest at watching games. I won't be standing on the side line quietly that's for sure. There will be a bit of yelling advice and encouragement to the boys."