Hard & Fast: Black Sticks 2016 Womens Squad

 Do the yard stick on your tippy toes, go on...

Do the yard stick on your tippy toes, go on...

Black Sticks womens coach Mark Hager has named 25 ladies in the national squad, which one would assume is similar to the mens squad named earlier last week. This brings together all the players who Hager views as being in contention for the Olympics.

From this squad we will see squads selected for upcoming series. They will face Canada in two Tests later this month in Hamilton before heading down to Hastings for the Hawke's Bay Cup where they will host a bunch of international teams in what has quickly become a high calibre kiwi hockey event.

It's Olympic year and I'm super excited about both Black Sticks teams as we've seen two very strong squads named by Hager and Batch.

Once again, there's going to be players in this squad who won't feature at the Olympics, however it's great for kiwi hockey that 25 ladies are named and they will be competing hard to make that Olympic squad.

Just like with the men, there's a core group in the womens squad who are near certainties as they are key figures in this team. Consider this as the core group...

Kayla Whitelock, Gemma Flynn, Sam Charlton, Charlotte Harrison, Sophie Cocks, Pippa Hayward, Rose Keddell, Olivia Merry, Stacey Michelsen, Emily Naylor, Brooke Neal, Anita Punt, Liz Thompson, Petrea Webster and Ella Gunson. 

That's 15 with goalies Sally Rutherford, Georgia Barnett and Amelia Gibson making it 18 (only two goalies will make the final cut).

That core group is basically a squad, so it's hard to see much changing in terms of the strongest possible squad.

Rachel McCann, Kirsten Pearce, Julia King, Kat Henry, Jordan Grant, Shiloh Grant and Natasha Fitzsimons will need to impress with any opportunities they are given to put pressure on the players above.

Very strong squad, nice dose of experience with Whitelock and Naylor back in the mix combining with a highly talented young group of players. Plus there's competition for spots, things are looking good.