Ross scores debut Black Sticks call-up

Last updated 05:00 14/02/2013

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Hamilton's Nick Ross has been selected as one of two debutants in the men's Black Sticks squad for a tournament in Malaysia next month.

The 22-year-old Midlands midfielder was named by coach Colin Batch in the 18-strong squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament from March 9-17.

North Harbour's Cory Bennett is the other uncapped player in the squad, which will be captained by classy defender Dean Couzins.

Batch has taken the opportunity to give several up-and-coming players valuable experience ahead of key tournaments this year.

"We are coming off an extremely positive training camp, with a number of new players performing well who certainly deserve their place in the team," he said.

Ross, who has come into the side from the development squad, will continue a family tradition, with father Dave a former Black Stick and sister Courtney in the Junior Black Sticks wider squad.

"Colin told me after the last session at training camp that I'd made the side. It was a bit of a surprise but I was really happy when he told me," Ross said.

"I've worked pretty hard all summer and it was a goal of mine to be selected for the Azlan Shah team. I'd love to be able to go well at Azlan Shah and consolidate a spot, with my long-term goal to play at the Rio Olympics in 2016."

Veterans Phil Burrows, Shea McAleese, Nick Haig, Richard Petherick and Brad Shaw all impressed at the week-long camp but are being rested for New Zealand's first tournament of 2013.

This also allows players to compete for their European club sides. Simon Child, Nick Wilson and Steven Edwards declared themselves unavailable because of commitments with Rotterdam HC.

The Black Sticks, who won last year's event, open their account against Pakistan, with Australia, India, South Korea and Malaysia also taking part.

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- Waikato Times

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