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Experience-laden Black Sticks team named

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/05/2017

Coach Mark Hager has named an experience-laden New Zealand women's hockey team to contest next month's World League Semi Final in Belgium.

Ten players in the 19-strong squad have played more than 100 Tests, versatile defender Stacey Michelsen leading the way with 224 caps.

Hager said the depth within the group made for some tough selection decisions.

"This is the strongest team we have at present after tests against Argentina, the Hawke's Bay Cup and the Indian series this year," he said.

"There were some very challenging decisions in selecting the final group which shows we have healthy depth at the moment which is great following an Olympic year."

The Black Sticks finished fourth at the Rio Games last August, losing 2-1 to Germany in the bronze medal match.

"We know the World League Semi Final will be very tough and it offers the top level competition we need to play amongst to continue developing," Hager said.

"We'll be pushing for a top performance with the ultimate goal to come away having qualified for the World Cup."

New Zealand will play hosts Belgium, Oceania champions Australia, Spain and Malaysia in Pool B at the Stade Fallon in Brussels.

Pool A includes reigning world champions Netherlands, Asian champions Korea, China, Scotland and Italy.

A further 10 teams will compete at the second World League Semi Final in Johannesburg from July 8-23.

At stake is qualification for the World League Final in Auckland in November, although New Zealand qualify automatically as hosts.

The top teams from each World League Semi Final will also qualify for next year's World Cup in London.

Black Sticks: Sam Charlton, Natasha Fitzsimons, Erin Goad, Jordan Grant, Ella Gunson, Sam Harrison, Pippa Hayward, Rose Keddell, Rachel McCann, Olivia Merry, Stacey Michelsen, Brooke Neal, Grace O'Hanlon, Kirsten Pearce, Amy Robinson, Sally Rutherford, Kelsey Smith, Liz Thompson. Travelling reserve: Frances Davies.

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