Future trumps title defence for Black Sticks

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 12:23 09/03/2013

Relevant offers

Other Sports

Valerie Adams' 56-competition, five-year shot put winning streak ends in Paris Black Sticks finish fourth at World League Semifinal after loss to Australia Jo Aleh, Polly Powrie complete victory at Women's 470 European championship Rohan Dennis wins Tour de France opening time trial stage Luuka Jones into semis at World Cup, Kiwi men bow out Laura Quilter into World Uni Games butterfly final Mahe Drysdale into Henley Royal Regatta single scull final Black Sox see off Dominican Republic, close in on softball world final The lap around France, the fab four and what it means for us Drugs linked to death of Adelaide Crow's Phil Walsh

Take a glimpse at the New Zealand men's hockey squad for this week's Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia and it's easy to see why coach Colin Batch is more concerned about development than defending their title.

Nine of the 18 players have played fewer than 10 internationals, and just three players - captain Dean Couzins, Andy Hayward and Hamish McGregor - are older than 23.

Batch is using the tournament as a development tool ahead of bigger dates later this year and though New Zealand are the defending champions, having last year won the tournament for the first time in its 30-year history, repeating that success appears unlikely.

"It's a very different team to last year," Batch said from Malaysia.

"They'd been together for four years and were building toward the Olympics last year. This squad has only had a handful of games together; there's a lot of young guys and players who we want to give an opportunity at international level."

To that end, expect to see plenty of squad rotation during the tournament, which starts tonight with a match against Pakistan.

"It's difficult to say where we will finish results-wise in the tournament, but my ambition is to keep developing and trial players for benefits in the longer term."

Batch said it was good to have two leaders in Couzins, 31, a veteran of 266 tests, and Hayward, 27, who were "very experienced players and doing a good job off the field with our less experienced players".

New Zealand play five qualifying matches in eight days, culminating in a playoff for final positions.

As well as world No 5 Pakistan, the sixth-ranked Black Sticks face the hosts, South Korea and India (all ranked just below them) and world No 2 Australia.

They split two warmup tests this week against Malaysia, at No 13 the lowest ranked of the six teams at the tournament.

Match schedule (world rankings in brackets, all times NZ):-

New Zealand (6) v Pakistan (5), 9.05pm today

New Zealand v Malaysia (13), 1.05am Monday

New Zealand v Korea (8), 9.05pm Tuesday

New Zealand v India (11), 11.05pm Thursday

New Zealand v Australia (2), 11.05pm next Saturday

Fifth v Sixth, 8.35pm Sunday, March 17

Third v Fourth, 11.05pm Sunday, March 17

First v Second, 1.35am Monday, March 18

Ad Feedback

- Stuff

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Shane Cameron beat Kali Meehan on Saturday?

For sure. Cameron will knock him out.

It will be close but I think Cameron on points.

Meehan will knock him out. This is his last fight.

I'm tipping Meehan to win on points.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content