Black Stick Nick Wilson is about to start the easiest three weeks of work in his life during the new Hockey India League next month.
The 22-year-old from Palmerston North was picked up by the Ranchi Rhinos in the player auction on Sunday night and will earn a decent wage for his brief stint on the subcontinent.
As well as his Black Sticks commitments, he spends half the year playing in the Netherlands for Rotterdam, so along with his pay packet from India will help him earn a pretty decent living.
"You could say that," he said. "Twenty-four thousand US [dollars] is pretty good in New Zealand terms for three weeks' work.
"The Dutch league stuff is good as well. I'm definitely a lot more comfortable than I have been in the past.
"Especially two years ago before the Olympics, I didn't have a European contract or an Indian contract."
The HIL starts on January 16 and runs until February 10, and features the top five players from most international teams.
"All the best players are there, it's going to be an awesome competition. What makes it even better is it's in India, they're trying to lift the game to a new era, make it a bit more professional and try and bring back the love of the game."
There has been speculation Wilson and Simon Childs, the other Black Stick picked up in the auction, would be unable to go because the end of the HIL clashes with a New Zealand training camp.
But Wilson and Childs, who will play for the Delhi Wave Riders, will travel. They just have to sort out with the hockey players' association and Hockey New Zealand whether they come back a few days early for the training camp.
Hockey New Zealand has given the players the all clear to play in the tournament but were to have a meeting with the players' association to figure out the finer details so they should be able to play as long as they are required.
Wilson did not know much about his team, made up of 10 foreign players and 14 Indian players, apart from coach Gregg Clark, who also coaches South Africa and a few of the players.
The Rhinos are based in Ranchi in India's northeast and other top players in the squad include German star Moritz Fuerste and English midfielder Ashley Jackson, as well as several from India's national squad.
After the Black Sticks' training camp, Wilson heads straight back to the Netherlands as their season resumes on February 24 after the winter break until the end of May, then he will be with the Black Sticks who are playing in Germany or the Netherlands.
Next year is turning into a busy one but he would be ready for it after five weeks off at home following a big 2012 which included the London Olympics.
"I'm really looking forward to it more mentally than anything. It's been a long year. I don't think I've stopped training at a high level since February."
- © Fairfax NZ News