Vantage Black Sticks Men’s Coach Darren Smith has named an incredibly strong side for their test series in Tokyo this month against India, Malaysia and Japan in the Ready, Steady Tokyo tournament.
There are four players in the team who have played more than 200 times for the Vantage Black Sticks, while Sam Lane is the only player to not have played more than 50 caps for his country.
The side sees the return of Simon Child for the first time since the 2016 Rio Olympics, having missed the past three years through injury. Child has played 274 matches for the Vantage Black Sticks and scored a massive 150 goals in that time.
The kiwis will be looking for all his experience as the team is gearing up for 2020 Tokyo qualification.
Black Sticks Coach Darren Smith commented on Child’s return to the side “It’s fantastic to have Simon with us, he is a world class player and we are excited to have him back.
Over the past 3 years he has been recovering from his hip injury and then has returned to hockey well. In Japan we will ease him back in and want him to love being back in the black jersey”.
The event in Tokyo is going to be the Black Sticks final hit out before they travel to Rockhampton and take on Australia in the Oceania Cup from the 4th-8th September. The winner of the Oceania Cup will gain direct entry to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The New Zealand Men have also welcomed former Kookaburra Glen Turner into the coaching staff. Turner played 136 times for the Australian Men and scored 96 goals in his illustrious career which also included two World Cup gold medals and an Olympic bronze.
Having another world class coach joining the side Smith commented “Glenn Turner joins us as striker coach for the Olympic campaign. This is an impressive man who is an Olympic medalist and two time World Cup winner. He is also a proven goal scorer at the international level, which our team can learn from. He has already made an impact over this training week”.
Darren Smith stated of the importance of this series “The Olympic test event against Japan, Malaysia and India gives us the opportunity to get ready for qualification and also see what the environment will be like in Tokyo. Considering the toughness of getting a ticket to the Olympics the biggest priority will be playing well and getting ready for qualifying with the 2nd part around experiencing the location a bonus”.
17thAugust – Vantage Black Sticks vs Japan – 10:00pm NZT
18thAugust – Vantage Black Sticks vs India – 10:00pm NZT
20thAugust – Vantage Black Sticks vs Malaysia – 12:30pm NZT
21stAugust – Finals Day