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Experienced Black Sticks squad for Oceania Cup
29 Aug 2007 07:23

An experienced squad of 18 players was named by New Zealand Hockey to take on Australia in the Oceania Cup tournament in two weeks time in a bid to take the direct route to the Beijing Olympics.

The winner of the tournament, which will be contested by New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea, will qualify for the 2008 Olympics.

Black Sticks Coach Shane McLeod has stuck with 18 of the 19 players who played in the five test build up series against Japan in mid August.

Unlucky to make the final cut is former North Harbour midfielder Lloyd Stephenson.

McLeod said: “Lloyd is in reasonable form, but the upcoming match up against Australia requires maximum experience in the inside forward positions.”

Captain Ryan Archibald (181 caps), Bryce Collins (54 caps), and Ben Collier (44 caps), will provide the midfield experience, with back up from Shea McAleese (47 caps).

The team is based around a core of highly experienced internationals. Eight players included in the squad have played more than 100 games for New Zealand.

McLeod said he was happy with the way the side is training and with the overall build up to the important tournament which will be played in Buderim, Australia from 11 until 16 September.

“We wanted to work on our left side defense in Japan as Australia could exploit us there. We also wanted our forwards to work more collectively,” he said. “I think we have made progress in both areas.”

The side also came through the series relatively injury free. Ryan Archibald continues to experience pain caused by a bone bruise on one of his ankles, but is able to play through the discomfort.

McLeod said he expected that Australia would soon be officially ranked No 1 in the world by the FIH, following recent developments in Europe.

 “Australia are likely to medal at the Olympics so if we are able to beat them at this point in time it would mean that our program is well on track to medal in Beijing" he says.

Black Sticks team to for Oceania Cup:

Ryan Archibald, Simon Child, Dean Couzins, Bevan Hari, Paul Woolford, Bradley Shaw, Hayden Shaw, Ben Collier, Bryce Collins, Steve Edwards, Blair Hopping, Dave Kosoof, Jan Peterson, Casey Henwood, Phil Burrows, Kyle Pontifex, James Nation,  Shea McAleese.

Source: New Zealand Hockey

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