Black Sticks name experienced Games squad

A core of ultra-experienced Black Sticks will lead the men's hockey side into April's Commonwealth Games campaign.

Seven of the Sticks' 18-strong squad have 100 Test caps or more, including captain Arun Panchia and 258-cap veteran Shea McAleese.

Alongside Panchia and McAleese, the likes of Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness and Marcus Child will also be called upon to make telling Gold Coast contributions.

McAleese will play in his fourth Commonwealth Games.

Head coach Darren Smith says he is pleased with his squad, which will face Canada, South Africa, Scotland and rivals Australia in pool play.

The top two sides from each pool progress to the semi-finals.

Smith also said he was chuffed to see key defender Cory Bennett, based with North Harbour, return to the Test fold after a long injury absence.

"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 the Gold Coast played during this year's Four Nations series in Tauranga and Hamilton so it'll be great so continue that progression.

"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."

Several key players, including defender Blair Tarrant and forwards Simon Child, Blair Hilton and Sam Lane, will skip the Games through injury.

The Black Sticks struggled to make a dent at January's Four Nations, finishing third in the Tauranga first leg and last in the Hamilton second leg.

That event also included Belgium, India and Japan.

BLACK STICKS: Cory Bennett, Marcus Child, Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness, Richard Joyce, Dane Lett, Devon Manchester, Shea McAleese, Harry Miskimmin, George Muir, Dominic Newman, Arun Panchia (c), Jared Panchia, Hayden Phillips, Nick Ross, Kane Russell, Aidan Sarikaya, Nic Woods.

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