The Vantage Black Sticks Men’s National Squad for 2020 has been named with Coach Darren Smith recalling several Olympians for the naming of the 25 strong group. The exciting squad will contest the second season of the FIH Hockey Pro League as the New Zealand Men begin their quest for Olympic success.
The squad features six players with more than 200 caps for the Black Sticks as well as 20 of the 25 named players have more than 50 caps, the experience in this team is going to be critical for the program which will be striving to earn their first medal at the Olympic Games since 1976.
The 2020 season could be one that will feature plenty of milestones in the men’s program with both Arun Panchia and Simon Child looking like they could bring up 300 caps for the side. Phil Burrows currently holds the New Zealand goalscoring record where he amassed a whopping 150 goals throughout his career, Simon Child is within touching distance of this record as he currently sits at 142 heading into the news season.
Darren Smith commented on the 2020 season “We get to play the FIH Hockey Pro League where we will be able to match up against the best teams in the world including playing matches against Australia, Argentina, India and Spain who are in our pool at Tokyo, testing ourselves against these teams is going to be great preparation for the Olympic Games in July”.
The team has been able to recall a number of players into the squad in the hopes of pushing the team towards Olympic Glory, Smith commented “We have been able to reintroduce Simon (Child) and Steve (Edwards) into the squad throughout the later stages of 2019, both players have been in outstanding form and have been selected as their skill and experience will be indispensable for the 2020 season”.
Having been overseas for the past few seasons Jacob Smith worked his way back into the squad in 2019, Smith was rewarded after showing some outstanding consistency throughout the latter part of the year.
Dwayne Rowsell and Leon Hayward have been selected for their first national contract, both were in outstanding form for Auckland at the 2019 Ford National Hockey League where the Auckland Men would go onto finish as the runners up. Leon Hayward was then selected in the Black Sticks squad to take on Japan and Korea in Stratford where he performed with great distinction in goal.
The Vantage Black Sticks Men will next return to the turf on February 1st when North Harbour Hockey will play host to the World Champion Belgium Men as the sides will look to match the epic 4-4 draw they played out in 2019.