World Cup squad named for the Black Sticks ladies

A mix of experience and youth has been selected by the Black Sticks Women’s selectors for the upcoming Hockey World Cup.  Mark Hagar has chosen 18 quality hockey players to compete in The Hague from May 31 – June 15 with the hopes of securing a top three placing.  Notably, four 19 year olds have been included in the squad – Michaela Curtis, Liz Thompson, Sophie Cocks and Rose Keddell – who will all be fighting for game time on the big stage against test veterans with over 200 caps. 

Liz Thompson and Sophie Cocks have been making steady progress with the team, finding their feet in the black singlet and focussing on doing the basics right.  Michaela Curtis is the second least capped player and is a questionable selection however when you look at the rest of the available strikers, Cass Reid is the only player that springs to mind and she is currently injured.  Rose Keddell is the most capped young gun with 38 caps and is well-known for her high work rate whenever she steps onto the field.  It will be interesting to see how Hagar uses all four girls and what role they play in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games.

Surprising – or not so surprising – selections include Jordy Grant from Canterbury who was only promoted to the National Squad in March this year, and Olivia Merry, also from Canterbury, who has been in and out of the National Squad over the past 12 months.  Exciting inclusions are Stacey Michelsen and Katie Glynn who both return from significant knee and ACL injuries that have prevented their selection recently.  Both add flare and tenacity with Glynn likely to lead by example and prove again nothing can keep her down, like her head injury at the London Olympics that saw her fully bandaged up but still fighting on.  Likewise, Michelsen will showcase her inside out ball control that saw her win the 2011 World Junior Player of the Year and become a prominent figure in the Black Sticks London Olympic Campaign.  Krystal Forgesson also returns to the side following injury and offers a mongrel in front of goal that very few have.

The women currently sit at 4th on the FIH World Rankings, behind Netherlands, Argentina and England.  This is by far one of the strongest teams Hagar has named given all his stars have now returned from injury along with Emily Naylor, who recently became the most capped Kiwi woman of all time, and Kayla Whitelock who will both lead the side.  The girls will be looking to perform highly at The World Cup with Australia, Belgium, Korea, Netherlands and Japan in their pool.  It won’t be any easy feat but the girls need to compete with all of these teams as a platform to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this July.

All games will be available on Sky Sport from May 31st.

2014 WORLD CUP TEAM

Kayla WHITELOCK -Central

Emily NAYLOR -Central

Krystal FORGESSON - Auckland

Olivia MERRY - Canterbury

Katie GLYNN - Auckland

Petrea WEBSTER - North Harbour

Sally RUTHERFORD - Midlands

Sam CHARLTON - Midlands

Michaela CURTIS - Central

Liz THOMPSON - Auckland

Sophie COCKS - Canterbury

Rhiannon DENNISON - North Harbour

Gemma FLYNN - Midlands

Rose KEDDELL - Midlands

Jordan GRANT - Canterbury

Bianca RUSSELL - North Harbour

Stacey MICHELSEN - Northland

Anita PUNT - Capital