A diverse Vantage Black Sticks Men’s team has been named to compete at Oceania Cup in Sydney.
The Oceania Cup runs from October 11 to October 15, 2017 at the Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre where New Zealand will be joined by hosts Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Held every two years, the Oceania Cup is the Continental Championship for the Oceania region with the winner of each gender automatically qualifying for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.
Hockey World Cup 2018
Both the Vantage Black Sticks Men and Women have already qualified for the World Cup, with the women’s event in London (July 2018) and the men’s in India (November 2018).
Each nation will play each other in the pool rounds before the top two ranked nations face off in the Gold Medal match for the Oceania Cup title.
Vantage Black Sticks head coach Darren Smith has named a talented side led by Captain Arun Panchia who is the most experienced player in the group with 227 international tests to his credit.
Goalkeeper Devon Manchester and midfielder Marcus Child are the only others to have played over 100 games but they are joined by some exciting young athletes.
Daniel Harris will make his New Zealand debut after impressing Selectors at the recently held Ford National Hockey League where he scored five goals and helped North Harbour lift the Challenge Shield for the first time since 2009.
Harris will combine for a dangerous striker combination with Canterbury’s Sam Lane who is in hot form having finished top goal scorer at the Ford NHL with 13 goals from six games.
Rio Olympian James Coughlan returns to the side having taken a break earlier in the year and missing the Hockey World League Semi Final in Johannesburg.
“We have a number of players who are unavailable for selection due to European club commitments and injury, so this will be a test for this group to step up and make their mark,” Smith said.
According to him, the Oceania Cup will be a tough challenge with Australia posing a huge threat across the turf.
Smith said that he was looking forward to seeing Black Sticks Men in action, in particular Daniel Harris who had a great Ford NHL tournament showing skill, work rate and form for the champion side North Harbour.
“There were a number of talented players not only with North Harbour but across the whole Ford NHL competition which was pleasing to see,” he said.
The Vantage Black Sticks Team (Photo Courtesy: www.photosport.nz)