The New Zealand Men’s hockey team has been announced ahead of at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Players were formally named by the New Zealand Olympic Committee alongside Hockey New Zealand at an announcement on Wednesday.
Shea McAleese is the most experienced player in the team having played 258 tests, ahead of what will serve as his fourth straight Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Above: Shea in action
The campaign will boost the 33-year-old’s career record to three Olympic Games, four Commonwealth Games and three World Cups.
Veteran midfielder Arun Panchia (243 caps) will captain the side in his third successive Commonwealth Games following on from Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014.
Strikers Hugo Inglis and Stephen Jenness are also lining up for their third straight Games and will be looking to add another medal to the bronze won in Delhi.
Midlands midfielder Aidan Sarikaya is the freshest face having only played 10 tests for New Zealand, and joins a group of five talented athletes in the team who are aged 23 or younger.
Several players were unavailable for selection due to injuries including veteran defender Blair Tarrant (back) and forwards Simon Child (hip), Blair Hilton (knee) and Sam Lane (knee).
Head coach Darren Smith said it’s an exciting time for the New Zealand side as they go into the Gold Coast campaign with high hopes.
“We’re really looking forward to the challenge of the Commonwealth Games and we know we will go up against some very good sides,” Smith said.
“The majority of the team for Gold Coast played during this year’s Four Nations series in Tauranga and Hamilton so it will be great so continue that progression as a unit.
“It’s great to have Cory Bennett back after several months out with injury - he’s been training very strongly and will add a lot in the defensive line.”
NZOC CEO Kereyn Smith extended her congratulations to the athletes.
"Well done to all of the athletes named in the team today," said Smith.
"Men's hockey is always played to an extremely high standard at the Commonwealth Games, I know this team will want to get amongst the medals and we wish them all the best as they strive to do so."
Sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the 10 competing nations for both men’s and women’s competitions are divided into two pools of five based on their FIH World Rankings.
Adding to the high standard on display, eight of the 10 men’s sides competing on the Gold Coast will also be participating at this year’s Hockey World Cup in December.
The hockey competition runs from 5-14 April at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre and sees each side play all other pool opponents before the top two from each pool progress to the semi-finals and medal matches.
Men’s Pool A features New Zealand along with trans-Tasman rivals Australia, Canada, South Africa and Scotland while Pool B includes England, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Wales.
The Kiwis open their Commonwealth Games campaign against Canada at 1:30pm (NZ time) on Friday 6th April.
The New Zealand Men have won one medal at past Commonwealth Games, a bronze at Delhi 2010.
For more information on hockey at Gold Coast 2018, click here to visit the official website
|Arun PANCHIA (capt)|