15 Nov 2012

Eight new players in men's hockey team

5:41 pm on 15 November 2012

The new New Zealand men's hockey coach Colin Batch has named eight new players in his squad for next month's Champions Trophy tournament in Melbourne.

Dean Couzins has been reappointed as captain for the top-eight event while there are eight players selected who weren't involved in this year's Olympic Games.

Among those not selected are the experienced sextet of Ryan Archibald, Andy Hayward, Blair Hilton, Brad Shaw, Richard Petherick and Kyle Pontifex - for personal reasons ranging from injuries to work commitments to babies.

Batch, an Australian who took over from Shane McLeod following the disappointing ninth place at the London Olympics, says there are a number of players who he believes need a shot - some just missed out on Olympic selection while others are younger players who he thinks have real talent and something to offer.

Dean Couzins has been reappointed as captain for the Champions Trophy.

The team named includes eight new players from the 16 who played at the Olympics - Blair Tarrant, Jacob Smith, Hamish McGregor, Devon Manchester, Alex Shaw, James Coughlan, Arun Panchia and Matt L'Huillier.

Five of the squad have more than 150 international test caps.

Ranked sixth in the world, the Black Sticks will have to improve on their Olympic performance to have a chance of finishing in the top five at this tournament and qualifying for the next Champions Trophy in 2014.

The tournament has a slightly new format from last year's, held in Auckland where the Black Sticks finished fourth, equalling their best-ever finish at the elite event back in 1978.

There are once again two pools of four but there's a crossover quarter-final which sees the best-placed team from one pool take on the worst-placed from the other, while second plays third, with the winners of each going on to the semi-finals.

They will take on Olympic gold medallists Germany, England (ranked fourth), and India (ranked 11th) in their pool.