15 Oct 2015

Men's Black Sticks team named for Oceania Cup

4:41 pm on 15 October 2015

The New Zealand Men's Hockey team has been named for the upcoming Oceania Cup in Stratford where the Black Sticks have one last chance to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Black Sticks veteran Simon Child.

Black Sticks veteran Simon Child. Photo: Getty Images

Coach Colin Batch has named a talented group for the Oceania Cup, which runs from 21-25 October and sees the Black Sticks Men and Women take on Australia, Fiji and Samoa in Stratford, Taranaki.

Headlining the announcement is the selection of debutant Midlands striker Leo Mitai-Wells who is expected to add a spark up front for the men in black.

The 20-year-old impressed during the recent Ford National Hockey League and has been training with the Black Sticks squad all year.

"Leo is a physically strong and very hard working player who will give us a point of difference in the attacking half," Batch said.

"He has been training with us all year and while it's his first opportunity to play for New Zealand, he certainly understands every part of our game plan and won't be fazed by the occasion."

Capital striker Stephen Jenness has also earned a recall after missing out during the recent South Island Tour against India, and will add another scoring threat for the Kiwis.

It's a strong goalkeeping unit with in-form veteran Kyle Pontifex joined by Devon Manchester.

The Black Sticks lost the four test series against India with a record of one win, two losses and a draw, but improved every game and put on show their best team effort in the final test.

Batch knows the stakes are high, but believes his team is ready to face up to the most important fixture under his coaching reign.

"We're not fearing the importance of this event - we need to embrace it and aim to achieve our best performance of the year.

"We are looking forward to the challenge and are confident we have what it takes as a group to pull this off."

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