The Black Sticks men have wrapped up their series against Malaysia and are now preparing to face Korea in Auckland. Two wins, a loss and a draw gave the Black Sticks a series win over an interesting Malaysian side, interesting in that they provided strong competition for the Black Sticks without dominating the kiwis.
Game one saw the kiwis go behind then bounce back to win 4-1.
Game two had the kiwis going down 3-2 courtesy of a late drag-flick.
Game three was won by the kiwis 4-2, thanks to a Hugo Inglis hatty late in the game after being level at 1-1.
Game four was a 0-0 stalemate.
Hugo Inglis finished as the top goal-scorer with 4, while Jacob Smith, Nick Wilson, Nic Woods, Shay Neal, Corey Bennett and James Coughlin all scored a goal each.
The other bit of news out of this series is the facial injury to defender Alex Shaw, who had been in and out of the squad recently. Shaw now faces time on the sidelines which isn't ideal when trying to book a ticked on the plane to Rio.
Far from a perfect series win for the Black Sticks, however it did see the kiwis put in a variety of game situations which they can learn from. The Black Sticks found themselves behind or level in the first three games and they went on to win twice which points to a slow start as well as dealing with a bit of adversity strongly.
Next up is Korea in Auckland with games on Wednesday and Thursday night, followed by games on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm.
Coach Colin Batch has named his squad for the Korean series which includes Brad Shaw and Stephen Jenness. Jenness is a near-certainty for Rio while Shaw may benefit from Alex Shaw's injury, there's also the odd inclusion of 18-year-old Hayden Phillips who could make his debut.
I'm not too sure why Phillips has been selected when there are other players competing for an Olympic spot. It's weird.
Marcus Child, Jared Panchia and Jacob Smith all drop out of the squad, three players who are fighting for those last few squad spots.
The full squad to face Korea is...
Ryan Archibald, James Coughlin, Cory Bennett, Blair Hilton, Simon Child, Nick Haig, Devon Manchester, Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness, George Muir, Arun Panchia, Hayden Phillips, Kyle Pontifex, Nick Ross, Kane Russell, Brad Shaw, Nick Wilson, Nic Woods, Blair Tarrant.