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New Zealand men poised for final crack at Rio

October 20, 2015

New Zealand's men are embarking on their biggest challenge in recent years as they aim to win the Oceania Cup to guarantee qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

Apart from world champions Australia, who qualified for Rio at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Antwerp, Belgium in July, this is the last chance for New Zealand, Fiji and Samoa, to reach Rio 2016, with only the continental champions qualifying.

New Zealand coach, Colin Batch, has named a talented group for the Oceania Cup. Headlining the announcement is the selection of debutant Midlands striker Leo Mitai-Wells who is expected to add a spark up front for the men in black.

The 20-year-old impressed during the recent Ford National Hockey League and has been training with the Black Sticks squad all year.

“Leo is a physically strong and very hard working player who will give us a point of difference in the attacking half,” Batch said.

“He has been training with us all year and while it’s his first opportunity to play for New Zealand, he certainly understands every part of our game plan and won’t be fazed by the occasion.”

Capital striker Stephen Jenness has also earned a recall after missing out during the recent South Island Tour against India, and will add another scoring threat for the Kiwis.

It’s a strong goalkeeping unit with in-form veteran Kyle Pontifex joined by Devon Manchester.

The Black Sticks lost the four test series against India with a record of one win, two losses and a draw, but improved every game and put on show their best team effort in the final test.

Batch knows the stakes are high, but believes his team is ready to face up to the most important tournament under his coaching reign.

“We’re not fearing the importance of this event – we need to embrace it and aim to achieve our best performance of the year.

“We are looking forward to the challenge and are confident we have what it takes as a group to pull this off.”

All games during the week will be streamed on the Hockey New Zealand website, hockeynz.co.nz, with the men’s and women’s finals broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport on Sunday 25 October.

For more on the Oceania Cup, including the full draw. click here.

To buy tickets, click here.

NEW ZEALAND MEN

SHIRT #

PLAYER NAME

REGION

POSITION

AGE

CAPS

10

Ryan ARCHIBALD

Auckland

Midfielder

35

295

6

Simon CHILD

Auckland

Midfielder

27

241

1

James COUGHLAN

North Harbour

Striker

25

38

31

Steve EDWARDS

North Harbour

Striker

29

203

4

Nick HAIG

Canterbury

Defender

28

175

29

Hugo INGLIS

Southern

Striker

24

157

27

Stephen JENNESS

Capital

Striker

25

135

20

Devon MANCHESTER

Auckland

Goalkeeper

25

65

26

Leo MITAI-WELLS

Midlands

Striker

20

-

30

George MUIR

North Harbour

Midfielder

21

40

24

Arun PANCHIA

Auckland

Midfielder

26

168

3

Kyle PONTIFEX

Capital

Goalkeeper

35

159

7

Nick ROSS

Southern

Midfielder

25

23

21

Kane RUSSELL

Southern

Defender

23

56

12

Brad SHAW

Canterbury

Defender

32

164

22

Blair TARRANT

Southern

Defender

25

146

32

Nick WILSON

Central

Striker

25

138

17

Nic WOODS

Midlands

Defender

20

29

 

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