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New Zealand pack Champions Challenge squad with experience

New Zealand men’s hockey coach Colin Batch has named a strong side to compete at the 2014 Champions Challenge in Kuantan, Malaysia later this month.
 
The Black Sticks, hosts Malaysia, Korea, Ireland, Japan, Canada, France and Poland will compete in the tournament with the winner guaranteed a place in the 2016 Champions Trophy.

The 18-man team includes plenty of experience with 11 players having amassed more than 100 international caps. The Champions Challenge forms an important part of the Kiwis’ build-up to the 2014 World Cup at thge end of May.

Captain Dean Couzins (currently on 298 caps) is set to become just the second Kiwi following Phil Burrows to play 300 tests for New Zealand.

Batch said the team for this tournament has been selected based on two important outcomes.

“We’ve made our selections with the aim to do well at Champions Challenge, but also with an eye towards finding the best combinations for the World Cup,” Batch said.

“We play Ireland first which will be an extremely difficult game. They’ve shown they can provide shocks so that’s a tough game first up.

“Also Japan, who we have played three times recently, are in our pool along with Poland who are a bit of a surprise package.”

Each team will play the other three sides in their pool before a sudden death crossover quarter final.

Before Champions Challenge, the Black Sticks play Australia in two tests in Perth. The time zone will be the same as Malaysia which will help the team acclimatise ahead of the tournament.

BLACK STICKS MEN
Champions Challenge, Malaysia
April 26 – May 4, 2014

NAME

REGION

POSITION

AGE

CAPS

Phil BURROWS

Capital

Midfielder

33

312

Marcus CHILD

Auckland

Striker

23

52

Simon CHILD

Auckland

Striker

25

192

Dean COUZINS

Auckland

Defender

32

298

Steve EDWARDS

North Harbour

Midfielder

28

168

Nick HAIG

Canterbury

Midfielder

27

132

Andy HAYWARD

Midlands

Defender

28

161

Blair HILTON

Capital

Striker

24

112

Hugo INGLIS

Southern

Striker

23

120

Steve JENNESS

Capital

Striker

23

100

Devon MANCHESTER

Auckland

Goalkeeper

24

26

Shea McALEESE

Central

Midfielder

29

190

Hamish McGREGOR

Southern

Goalkeeper

25

26

Arun PANCHIA

Auckland

Midfielder

24

123

Jared PANCHIA

Auckland

Striker

20

25

Kane RUSSELL

Southern

Defender

21

27

Alex SHAW 

Capital

Defender

24

39

Blair TARRANT

Southern

Defender

23

94

 

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