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New-look Black Sticks to face Malaysia

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/11/2016

The mission to unearth new players to compete at the Tokyo Olympics is underway for New Zealand women's hockey coach Mark Hager.

Twelve uncapped players have been included in a squad off 22 to play a five-Test series against Malaysia in Stratford in December.

Hager says the time is right to test the depth of his playing resources early in the Olympic circle, choosing to rest several players involved in last week's 2-1 series win over Australia in Auckland.

Not a single member of Hager's squad boasts 100 Test caps while only striker Kirsten Pearce was involved in the Rio Olympic campaign.

"The players selected for this series are with an eye to the future and maintaining competition for positions will continue to develop depth within our playing group," he said.

"To be able to provide an opportunity for 12 debutantes is exciting and builds on our philosophy post Rio of providing opportunity for the wider group."

Of the new faces, five hail from the Midlands region and none are over the age of 21.

Hager says the tournament will be a good progression for several of the newcomers, who are competing at this week's junior World Cup in Chile.

He expects the 21st-ranked Malaysians to provide a decent challenge to his world No.5 outfit.

The first Test is on December 12.

Black Sticks: Jess Anderson, Michaela Curtis, Tarryn Davey, Francis Davies, Maddie Dowe, Natasha Fitzsimons, Erin Goad, Sam Harrison, Megan Hull, Alia Jaques, Rachel McCann, Pippa Norman, Kirsten Pearce, Felicity Reidy, Deanna Ritchie, Brooke Roberts, Amy Robinson, Phoebe Steele, Jenny Storey, Kim Tanner, Catherine Tinning, Ginny Wilson.

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