With just over 170 days to go to the London Olympics preparations continue to build. After a 4-week break following the Champions Trophy tournament in NZ the Black Sticks Men got together for a ‘blow out the cobwebs’ type camp in the sunny Hawkes Bay. Fitness testing was first up and after some pretty successful YO-YO scores and a few people bringing their lunch back up fitness testing was finished and hockey became the focus of the week. It was great to get back into it with the full squad and laid a good platform for the next six months leading into London.

Looking back on 2011 brings a lot of fond memories. Playing a Champions Trophy tournament in NZ was an amazing experience. To have friends and family and the general public getting behind our campaign was huge for us and its always great playing on home soil. We had a really successful tournament making the Top 4, but then were really disappointed not to push on to the final and gain a medal. We decided we should save this feat for London instead.

Summer was supposed to be on the cards after Champions Trophy. The weather did its best to disrupt that but was still time to have a good break from hockey and spend time with friends and family whilst working on our conditioning. It was great to get to spend some quality time in our home regions before having to centralise in Auckland to give ourselves the best shot of medalling at London.

At the moment there is 27 players playing in a series of games vs. Japan and Korea with everyone competing for places in the final squad to go through to London. We had an average series against Japan, winning it but performing well below where we would have liked to be. Over the next couple of weeks we have 5 games in Auckland vs. Korea at Lloyd Elsmore Park, Auckland. It would be great to have some home support there when we take on the Koreans who are number six in the world and a team that we really enjoy playing as we know are always going to be tough competitors.

Hopefully I can report a series win in the next month and general good times as we build up towards the pinnacle event of certainly mine and I’m sure a few of the other boys hockey careers.