Vantage Black Sticks midfielder/defender Pippa Hayward has announced her retirement from international hockey.
The 27-year-old Cantabrian, who has played 158 tests for New Zealand, took the opportunity to hang up the stick after helping her side win a gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Since making her debut in 2012, Hayward said she loved her time with the national programme but was looking forward to life beyond hockey.
With just two papers remaining to complete a degree of law and arts, she will put her full focus into study before looking for employment opportunities.
“After winning a gold medal on the Gold Coast I’m still on such a high and I think that’s made it a bit harder to move on, but I know I’m making the right choice and this is my time,” Hayward said.
“This gold medal is definitely one of my proudest achievements but there are so many memories I will treasure for the rest of my life.
“I want to thank the entire Black Sticks group who I have been with over the years. I have been fortunate enough to form some amazing friendships along the way. It was an absolute honour to take the field with a group of great women who are competitive, courageous and very kind.
“A huge thank you to my friends and family, especially my mum and dad (Roger and Megan), my sister Emma and brother Joshua. Their support has been remarkable and allowed me to keep playing for so long. There have been a number of very testing moments throughout my career and I honestly do not think I would have made it this far without them.
“I have appreciated the help from both Canterbury Hockey, Hockey New Zealand and the Hockey Players Association throughout my career along with some special sponsors like Kookaburra, specifically Grant Jackson, Angela and John Turkington and Adrian from New World Remuera.”
Vantage Black Sticks Women’s head coach Mark Hager said Hayward’s positive spirit would be missed within the squad.
“Congratulations to Pippa on her career, she has always brought some special qualities to our group and will be missed. I wish her all the best and am sure she will continue to have success in the next stage of her life.”