Canterbury have strong showing in Black Sticks

Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012

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Canterbury women's hockey's resurgence has continued with five red-and-black new caps in the Black Sticks squad for a six-test home series against India next month.

Rookies Sian Fremaux, Pippa Hayward, Olivia Merry, Cassandra Reid and Jenny Storey, are from the Canterbury Cats squad which won its first national title for a decade last season.

They bring the Canterbury's complement in the 25-strong squad to eight, joining Bridget Blackwood (17 caps), Sophie Devine (36) and Amelia Gibson (11).

Reid, a student at Craighead Diocesan School in Timaru, is believed to be South Canterbury's first national women's hockey squad selection for many decades.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager named eight new faces, including Wellington midfielder-defender Aniwaka Roberts, whose older sister, Niniwa, is an ex-international.

Eleven of the Black Sticks' London Olympic Games squad, including captain Kayla Sharland, Emma Naylor, Gemma Flynn, Katie Glynn, Stacey Michelsen and Anita Punt, have all been retained to play India.

Samantha Harrison has been dropped to the New Zealand Development squad and five other Olympians have made themselves unavailable for 2013.

The future looks good for the Black Sticks with new player depth, government funding expected to hold and Hager open to extending his contract to the 2016 Olympic Games.

One of the shrewdest coaching appointments in New Zealand sport over the past four years, Hager has hauled the national women's hockey team from 11th to third in the world rankings over a single Olympic cycle.

Taking charge in the aftermath of Beijing 2008, where they lost every game and had funding slashed, Hager has rebuilt the Black Sticks, steering them agonisingly close to the podium at London 2012.

Announcing his squad for 2013 yesterday, Hager's contract expires after the following year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

However, the Australian says, the option of staying on to the next Olympic Games in Rio is something he would happily consider.

"I' would like to [renew to 2016].

"At this stage I've left my options open to see what happens . . ." Hager said.

The Black Sticks' series against India begins on December 8.

The squad is: Bridget Blackwood (Canterbury) 17 caps, Sam Charlton (Midlands) 36, Michaela Curtis (Central) 0, Sophie Devine (Canterbury) 36, Gemma Flynn (Midlands) 119, Krystal Forgesson (Auckland) 168, Sian Fremaux (Canterbury) 0, Amelia Gibson (Canterbury) 11, Katie Glynn (Auckland) 93, Ella Gunson (Northland) 84, Charlotte Harrison (Northland) 163, Pippa Hayward (Canterbury) 0, Rose Keddell (Auckland) 0, Julia King (Auckland) 23, Olivia Merry (Canterbury) 0, Stacey Michelsen (Northland) 109, Emily Naylor (Central) 203, Anita Punt (Capital) 103,Cassandra Reid (Canterbury) 0, Aniwaka Roberts (Capital) 0, Bianca Russell (North Harbour) 48, Sally Rutherford (Midlands) 32, Kayla Sharland (Central) 176, Jenny Storey (Canterbury) 0, Petrea Webster (North Harbour) 18.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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