Dominic Newman's part of a young wave of top-shelf hockey talented finding its way into the Black Sticks, so he answered some questions for us.
You made your Black Sticks debut earlier this year as a youngster, how did you find out and describe the feeling of making the national men's hockey team...
I remember the call vividly; I was working a summer job on a building site, it was late on a Friday afternoon and I had left to sort out my papers for the uni semester coming up. I got a call from a number that I thought was the boss, so naturally I was preparing for a bollocking but to my surprise it was Batchy (Black Sticks coach Colin Batch). He told me how I'd had a good NHL (National Hockey League) and NZ A series and that he had selected me in the National and Rio squads which was a huge surprise.
What have been the main differences between each level of hockey that you have noticed while moving through those levels?
Most of the boys say that the speed of the game is the main thing that they notice, which I agree with but what I learnt is how clinical the teams and players are in international hockey. A lot of goals and attacking outcomes come from one small individual error like running the wrong line in a press or missing an easy tackle, it creates a snowball effect back through the layers behind.
Strikers aren't known for their passing ability and you slapped a reverse-stick pass flat along the turf to set up a goal against Australia. Do these sorts of skills come naturally or do you spend a lot of time fine-tuning a reverse pass for example at training?
In the moment they just come naturally; you aren’t thinking about hitting the ball flat or someone getting on the end of it you just use your instincts and do it and trust your mates. I guess that this comes from hours of practice and then playing without fear, backing your ability and trusting that your mates will do their job.
What's your favourite aspect of training?
We do a skill circuits at the start of every training, working on dribbling and lots of quick flair moves. I find these a lot of fun and also the most challenging because I don't have natural elimination skills like some of the boys. But it's hard to go past a competitive game. My favourite is a Young vs Old games which we play at Canterbury trainings.
What would you consider to be strengths of your game?
Speed, passing and receiving are my biggest strengths. I am able to link with other players well and set people up. So I've been trying to add to these skills by working on my second-phase play; getting the ball back off someone in open space where I can try open up the play with my speed and create 2v1's. For the Junior World Cup I will be playing in the midfield so distribution and second-phase play will be massive for me. We have a exciting group up front who can make stuff happen out of nothing and in the key attacking areas they are electric so getting the ball up there will be key for us.
How do go about maintaining fitness levels required for international hockey, outside of Black Sticks training camps?
Luckily I'm naturally reasonably fit but I have a good school mate from the mainland who has migrated up to Auckland. He's right into his triathlons and ironman so we get out west into the Waitaks (Waitakere Ranges) and do some exploring on and off the tracks as often as possible. He's a mountain goat so he gives me a good challenge to try and keep up.
What have you learned off the veterans in the Black Sticks?
Nick Haig has taught all us young boys life skills to fit in, in inner-city Auckland; how to make a coffee and correctly roll the bottom of your jeans.
Walk us through the ups and downs of playing hockey in Canterbury with all the major earthquakes...
I was young, so didn't think much of it at the time and besides the loss of facilities, I don't think there were any downs from it - only ups. In reflection it made the association (Canterbury Hockey) more tight-knit and added an edge or mental toughness to the guys I played age-group hockey with.
I remember it clearly happening before the National U15 tournament, the group of us coming through had to start training early mornings because of the limited turf time and we came to training with more of a purpose because no one likes getting up early and achieving nothing.
The main thing the earthquake led to was me playing more hockey to cure the boredom, it was a way for to hang out with the mates I wasn't seeing at school. When we were playing and training for Canterbury we felt like we were making a difference and playing for our region.
This moulded a new age of Canterbury players who went on to win three national titles and return with medals every tournament since. Least of all, it also produced two other Blacksticks in Sam Lane and David Brydon, who I call my best mates, plus countless other Junior Blacksticks.
What are you favourite things to eat outside of Black Sticks camps and something healthier for when you are in camp?
Outside of Black Sticks camp definitely Burger Fuel and Fries. And in camp, Burger Fuel with no fries.
Now you've had a decent taste of international hockey, what do you think you need to do to play more international hockey for NZ?
Keep working on the things that got me to this point in my career but the most beneficial thing will be to add small and subtle skills to my game each training and having goals too stay fresh and motivated.
What players have you looked up to and tried to emulate in terms of playing style?
Embarrassingly enough when I was about 10yrs there used to be a New Zealand hockey magazine so I would cut out the cool photos of the guys in the team at the stage, most of them are still in the team now. It's a funny memory to look back on.
I was influenced by the guys that we were playing regionally and week in week out through club hockey, I would see the way someone who was better than me received the ball or did a certain skill and try bring parts of their technique into my own style of play. I think the biggest thing though was training with players ahead of me in a team and trying to compete as best as I could to take their starting spot.
With some time off over summer, where will you be and what will you be doing?
I'm currently flying to India for the Junior World Cup in Lucknow. Then I'm heading straight back to Christchurch for Christmas with the family. In the new year you will find me on the banks of as many Blackcaps games as possible.