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Fit-again Phillips returns to Black Sticks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/06/2017

It is the first taste of international hockey for Phillips since the Rio Olympics last August. © Michael Bradley/Getty Images It is the first taste of international hockey for Phillips since the Rio Olympics last August. Promising teenager Hayden Phillips has shaken off injury and reclaimed his place in the Black Sticks squad for the looming FIH World League Semi Final tournament.

Coach Darren Smith has included 19-year-old Phillips and a number of European-based professionals in his 18-player squad for the tournament in Johannesburg in July.

It is the first taste of international hockey for Phillips since the Rio Olympics last August, having fully recovered from an ankle problem.

Experienced defender Nick Haig also comes back into the fray after suffering a broken foot during the recent home series against Pakistan.

Steeled from a season of club hockey in Europe are Shea McAleese, Blair Tarrant, Hugo Inglis, Nic Woods, Jacob Smith, Marcus Child and Jared Panchia.

Players not considered because of injury or unavailability included Simon Child, James Coughlan, Blair Hilton and Brad Read.

Smith says finalising his squad for the elite 10-nation tournament was difficult.

"There were some tough calls and some extremely good players missed out, but that's a great problem to have as it shows there is some depth within the squad," he said.

"It will be a high pressure environment and we know that we will need to be at our peak to get the results needed."

The Black Sticks are joined in pool play by world champions Australia, Spain, Japan and France.

Ten teams will take part in two Semi Final tournaments, with the other Men's event being held in London.

Results across both tournaments will determine contenders for the Hockey World League Final.

The top 10 finishers also gain qualification for the 2018 Hockey World Cup, also in India.

Black Sticks squad:

Goalkeepers: Richard Joyce, Devon Manchester.

Defenders: David Brydon, Nick Haig, Shea McAleese, Arun Panchia, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant, Nic Woods.

Midfielders: Marcus Child, George Muir, Hayden Phillips, Nick Ross.

Strikers: Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness, Sam Lane, Jared Panchia, Jacob Smith.

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