The Vantage Black Sticks (VBS) have been boosted by the return of former captain, and prolific goal scorer, Simon Child ahead of the 2022/23 FIH Pro-League and 2023 Men’s World Cup. Child will join an 18 strong squad ahead of four matches in India later this month – two against India, and two against Spain.
Head Coach Greg Nicol has had an almost full complement of players to select from with only Dane Lett and Hugo Inglis making themselves unavailable for personal reasons. The matches in India will play an important part in preparations for the World Cup, also taking place in India.
“We’ll be playing in the conditions that we’re going to be experiencing at the World Cup. So it’s a great chance for us to get acclimatised, especially with a few players not having been before,” said Nicol.
Child’s selection will be his first since the beginning of 2020 with personal commitments keeping him out of the Tokyo Olympics. He will look to add to his 284 caps and 142 goals for New Zealand.
“I’d always hoped to play more games for the Black Sticks, but the timing with Covid, as well as a new business and a young family meant that I wasn’t able to prioritise hockey in the last little while.
“I’ve spent a large part of my life playing for this team and I’m looking forward to getting back into training and touring India with the guys.”
Nicol is grateful to be able to call on Child’s experience and said, “hopefully the young fellas can learn off Simon and there’s a bit that Simon’s probably going to learn from them because we’re playing a slightly different style now.
“I think we’ve got a nice blend of youth and experience in our group.”
The VBS will play their matches against India Oct 29, Nov 5 and against Spain Oct 30, Nov 6 – all at 2.40am NZT with all games being shown live on Spark Sport.
The 2023 Men’s World Cup runs from Jan 14-30 with the VBS facing the Netherlands, Malaysia, and Chile in their pool.
Dom Dixon, George Enersen, Brad Read, Simon Yorston, Blair Tarrant, Kane Russell, Nic Woods, Charl Ulrich, Aidan Sarikaya, Hayden Phillips, Joe Morrison, Sean Findlay, Simon Child, Dylan Thomas, Sam Lane, Sam Hiha, Jake Smith, Kim Kingstone