International Hockey Returns To New Zealand

The long Awaited Trans Tasman series between New Zealand and Australia is back

After a 14-month hiatus from international hockey, New Zealand and Australia will square off in the Sentinel Homes Trans-Tasman series, which begins in three weeks in Palmerston North.

The men’s and women’s four-match series will be the final qualification event before the two countries announce their Olympic squads for Tokyo. This series will also be the first time Trinny Powell leads her new squad into competitive action since replacing Paul Gaudoin.

New Zealand and Australia line up for a minutes silence ahead of the ANZAC Memorial match
New Zealand and Australia line up for a minutes silence ahead of the ANZAC Memorial match

The Vantage Black Sticks will play the Australian Hockeyroos and Kookaburras on the new Massey University turf on Thursday, May 27, Friday, May 28, and Sunday, May 30, and Tuesday, June 1. The FIH Pro league was disrupted by Covid-19 in March of 2020 and will become the first internationals in New Zeland.

Since the Trans-Tasman bubble was revealed, Hockey New Zealand Chief Executive Anthony Crummy said the two countries have been working closely to get a series off the ground.

“It’s really pleasing to see the willingness from both countries to do what it takes to make this series happen so quickly and ensure our Tokyo-bound Vantage Black Sticks have world-class opposition as the Olympic countdown begins.

“Given the unfortunate 14-month hiatus in international hockey for both teams, this series will be vital as both a selection event and in our final preparations for Tokyo.”

Palmerston North was selected as the series’ host city because it had stability in the event of a shift in Covid warning ratings, according to Crummy.

“The playing surface at Massey University is also the same as the one in Tokyo, and we’ve received phenomenal support from Hockey Manawatū and the wider community to pull this together in such a short timeframe.”

The matches will be Palmerston North’s first internationals since 2014, when the Black Sticks women took on the USA.

Australias Hockeyroos huddle post game vs New Zealand in the FIH ProLeague

Matt Favier, CEO of Hockey Australia said the coaching staff of Kookaburras and Hockeyroos were delighted to announce their series.

“We are really pleased that we have been able to collaborate with our Trans-Tasman neighbours and lock in these matches,” said Favier.

“Similarly to New Zealand, our athletes’ resilience and adaptability has been tested without any international competition since March last year, particularly in the lead up to an Olympics.

“This four-match series against quality opposition will be invaluable.”

The two countries are both trying to finalise dates for their postponed FIH Pro League matches, with the intention of playing a two-match series in late June in Australia.

In the week following the Trans-Tasman series, the 18-man Black Sticks squads for the Tokyo Olympics will be announced. Although a state of emergency has been declared in Tokyo, due to the growing numbers of new Covid infections in the city, the IOC are still fully intent on the Olympic Games going ahead as normal.

The Olympic squads for the Australia’s Kookaburras and Hockeyroos will be revealed on June 14th.

The last time the New Zealand Black Sticks Women faced the Hockeyroos was in September 2019 at the Oceania Cup in Rockhampton, where the Kiwis won to qualify for Tokyo.

At the same time, the men’s Oceania Cup was won by the Kookaburras, who won two games and drew one.

Sentinel Homes Trans-Tasman series Thursday 27 May, Friday 28 May, Sunday 30 May and Tuesday 1 June at the Massey University turf, Palmerston North
Match times: 5.30pm and 7.30pm on Thursday, Friday and Tuesday, 1pm and 3pm on Sunday.
Tickets available from Tuesday at www.blacksticksnz.co.nz

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