The return of two-time Olympian Nick Wilson for the first time since the 2016 Rio Olympics has bolstered the 2021 Vantage Black Sticks Men’s squad named today.
The 25-man squad, which recently lost more than 550 caps of experience following the retirements of Arun Panchia (287 caps), Marcus Child (171 caps) and Cory Bennett (110 caps), also features three new caps and a potential four-time Olympian.
Wilson, who has been focusing on his career as a commercial real estate agent since Rio, impressed the selectors as one of the top goal scorers in the recent Sentinel Homes Premier Hockey League (PHL). A veteran of two previous Olympics, Wilson will be looking to stake his case for a third games and adding to his 170 caps for the Vantage Black Sticks.
The experienced Shea McAleese is striving to be selected for his fourth Olympic Games, having been part of the squads at Beijing, London and Rio. McAleese is currently sitting on 310 caps and next year he could overtake Ryan Archibald for second place on the all-time caps for the Vantage Black Sticks.
There are three uncapped players in the 2021 squad with the Central Falcons duo of Sean Findlay and Sam Hiha being rewarded following strong performances in the PHL. Hauraki Mavericks player Oliver MacIntyre also joins them in the squad for the first time.
The world has changed a lot since the Black Sticks last took the turf Darren Smith says “Much has happened since we last took the field against Argentina on 1 March. After the lockdown and subsequent delay in Tokyo Olympics we took the chance to re-set the program, connect with our up and coming talent and look over the squad that will take us to Tokyo and beyond. It gave the chance for all of us to look at the other aspects of our life and think about what is important heading into 2021”.
We have some new Vantage Black Sticks Players coming into the squad “We have lost some experience in the group but we also have gained some players who have taken their chance in training and during the recently completed Sentinel Homes Premier Hockey League. Congratulations to new Vantage Black Sticks players Sean Findlay, Oliver MacIntyre and Sam Hiha who have performed well and we are looking forward to seeing them perform in the black jersey. We also welcome back Nick, who has been in fantastic form over 2020 and is highly motivated to continue his decorated career”.
The Central Falcons, who were victorious in the PHL, have been rewarded with 10 of their team named in the national squad.
Falcons striker Jacob Smith was in outstanding form during the PHL, receiving the Archibald Trophy as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.Smith will be looking to continue his outstanding form in 2021 as he pushes for a place at his first Olympic Games.
Veteran striker Simon Child has made himself unavailable for the first part of 2021 as he continues to balance work, family and hockey commitments.
The Vantage Black Sticks will now shift their focus to the 2021 season “We now look forward to getting everyone back together in 2021 to start working on our team both on and off the turf. We will do this knowing that we still have a lot of uncertainty in the content of our program. It will be important no matter what our calendar looks like that we focus on being ready for Tokyo and that we are primed for performance against top opposition in difficult conditions”.
The squad will return to training in January as they build for a season which features an Oceania Cup (TBC), the postponed Tokyo Olympics and the resumption of the second season of the FIH Hockey Pro League.
2021 Vantage Black Sticks National Squad
David Brydon (53), Dom Dixon (3), Steve Edwards (220), George Enersen (61), Sean Findlay (Uncapped), Leon Hayward (7), Sam Hiha (Uncapped), Hugo Inglis (232), Stephen Jenness (250), Sam Lane (65), Dane Lett (77), Oliver MacIntyre (Uncapped), Shea McAleese (310), George Muir (141), Dominic Newman (58), Jared Panchia (134), Brad Read (34), Nick Ross (130), Kane Russell (161), Aidan Sarikaya (46), Jacob Smith (86), Blair Tarrant (212), Dylan Thomas (27), Nick Wilson (170), Nic Woods (128).
2021 Vantage Black Sticks Men’s management
Head Coach: Darren Smith
Manager: Kevin Marr
Team Services Manager: Dana Bisset
Assistant Coach (Defence): Dean Couzins
Assistant Coach (Attack): Glenn Turner
Goalkeeper Coach: Hugh Biss
Skills Coach: Mike Delaney
S&C Coach: Scott Logan
Performance Analyst: Julia Herbst
Physiotherapist: Ben ParkDoctor: Simon Baker
Nutritionist: Tracy Kirkcaldy
Physiologist: Lorenz Kissling
Mental Skills Coach: Craig Lewis
Athlete Life: Chris Arthur