Black Sticks squad named for Japan series

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 14:56 05/03/2014

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Black Sticks men's hockey coach Colin Batch has named an extended team of 20 players for the three game series against Japan, starting in Tauranga next week.

The series was an important part of the Black Sticks' preparation for the Champions Challenge in Malaysia at the end of April and June's Hockey World Cup in Holland.

There were 19 members of the New Zealand national squad in the team, along with Capital's Jacob Smith who has been called up from the development squad.

''We have a lot of big events coming up like Champions Challenge, World Cup and Commonwealth Games, so this will be an excellent opportunity to develop our team during this series,'' Batch said.

Two players hungry to impress in Tauranga were Andy Hayward and Cory Bennett, who both missed out on the Black Sticks' silver medal effort at the World League Final through injury.

Hayward has not played for the Black Sticks since the World League semifinal tournament last July after badly breaking his finger in a practice game.

The Black Sticks play Japan in the opening game of the series at Blake Park next Wednesday with games two and three on Thursday and Saturday respectively.

NEW ZEALAND SQUAD

Dean Couzins (c), Marcus Child, Simon Child, Arun Panchia, Jared Panchia, Devon Manchester (all Auckland), Joe Bartholomew, Cory Bennett, Steven Edwards, George Muir (North Harbour), Kane Russell, Hamish McGregor, Blair Tarrant, Hugo Inglis, (Southern), Blair Hilton, Stephen Jenness, Alex Shaw, Jacob Smith (Capital), Nick Haig (Canterbury), Andy Hayward (Midlands)

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