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Experienced Black Sticks squad named

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/06/2016

New Zealand have been bolstered by the return of four experienced players for the women's Champions Trophy tournament in London.

Former captain Kayla Whitelock, Gemma Flynn, Stacey Michelsen and Sally Rutherford are added to the squad who won the International Hockey tournament in Darwin, beating Australia in Saturday's final.

A hugely-experienced squad features only four players who have less than 100 international caps.

Emily Gaddum (nee Naylor) is the most experienced with 274 caps, followed by Whitelock (235), Flynn (231), Anita McLaren (nee Punt) (201), and Charlotte Harrison (207).

Coach Mark Hager says the team will be captained at the tournament by a leadership group comprising Michelsen, Charlton, McLaren and Liz Thompson.

Hager says the tournament is the last chance for players to prove themselves ahead of selection for the squad to contest the Rio Olympics.

"We have built a great deal of depth within our squad and Olympic selection is still wide open," he said.

"There were plenty of players who performed well in Darwin and that, along with Champions Trophy, will be taken into consideration."

World No.4 New Zealand open their campaign on June 18 against the top-ranked Netherlands followed by games against third-ranked Australia, Great Britain, Argentina and the United States.

New Zealand finished fourth at the last Champions Trophy, losing 2-1 to the Netherlands in the bronze medal game.

Black Sticks: Sam Charlton, Sophie Cocks, Gemma Flynn, Emily Gaddum, Amelia Gibson, Ella Gunson, Charlotte Harrison, Pippa Hayward, Rose Keddell, Anita McLaren, Olivia Merry, Stacey Michelsen, Brooke Neal, Kirsten Pearce, Sally Rutherford, Liz Thompson, Petrea Webster, Kayla Whitelock.

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