Hard & Fast: Black Sticks Men's Squad For Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

The Black Sticks men's squad to defend their Sultan Azlan Shah Cup title in Malaysia has been named. 

Ryan Archibald, Simon Child, James Coughlin, Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness, Shea McAleese, George Muir, Shay Neal, Arun Panchia, Hayden Phillips, Kyle Pontifex, Brad Shaw, Kane Russell, Jacob Smith, Blair Tarrant, Nick Wilson, Nic Woods.

Coach Colin Batch has brought back Shea McALeese to help provide experience and organisation to the Black Sticks, especially on defence. Batch has also select fringe players Hayden Phillips and Jacob Smith for the tournament while the rest of the squad is fairly settled.

Phillips and Smith will be looking to make an impression, pushing for an Olympic spot and there's no Alex Shaw who is out injured. With the big picture in mind, the Azlan Shah tournament will see a strong striking crew consisting of Simon Child, Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness, Shay Neal and Nick Wilson continue to develop their combination ahead of the Olympics and this ability up front is the Black Sticks' biggest strength right now.

The kiwis will face Malaysia, Canada, Pakistan, Japan, Australia and India in a tournament that will offer us far greater insight into how the Black Sticks are looking. 

Games against Malaysia (April 6), Australia (April 12) and India (April 13) will be very interesting both in terms of the tournament and defending their title, as well as providing a stern challenge for the kiwis. 

This will be a great tournament to watch for kiwi fans as there's the title defence, Olympic spots up for grabs along with tracking how the Black Sticks are working towards the Olympics in a team sense.