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End of an era for three experienced Black Sticks Men

Three teammates from the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medal-winning Vantage Black Sticks Men’s team have decided that the time is right to retire from international hockey. 

Longtime teammates for Auckland and Southern Districts Arun Panchia and Marcus Child will move onto the next phase of their lives alongside North Harbour and East Coast Bays defender Cory Bennett. 

Black Sticks Head Coach Darren Smith said the trio would be sorely missed.

“While the retirement of quality internationals is always felt by the group, what is fantastic is watching their lives and careers take shape. We have no doubt that successful lives after international hockey await.”

Former Black Sticks Captain Dean Couzins played with the trio and has worked alongside them as a selector and coach. 

“Congratulations Cory, Arun and Marcus. All of you have given service and longevity to the jersey that you and your family can be proud of”. 

“Arun and Marcus are friends that I have a long history playing with for Southern, Auckland, and the Black Sticks. You enhance the teams that you play for and will be missed in the black jersey”. 

Arun Panchia 2009-2020   Caps: 287  Commonwealth Games: silver 2018, bronze 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: gold 2015 2016 Rio Olympian

A former Vantage Black Sticks captain, Panchia retires as the fifth most capped Black Stick of all time. 

Smith described Panchia as a leader on and off the turf.

“Being capped nearly 300 times for your country is a wonderful honour but what is also valued is the quality that a person brings to the team, and Arun is out of the top drawer”.

“Arun felt that now was the time to step away from the Vantage Black Sticks with increased responsibility at his supportive employer AMP where he has worked for a number of years”.

Panchia, who was joined in the Black Sticks by his younger brother Jared in 2013, says playing for the Black Sticks was a dream from a young age.

“Representing New Zealand has been a huge honour and is something I’ll value for the rest of my life. I’ve been fortunate to have had so many amazing experiences with the Black Sticks and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years”.  

“I’ve been so fortunate to have had some amazing experiences which I’ll value for the rest of my life. The Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast was the standout as we played well, had a lot of supporters there, and coming away with a medal is always nice.”

Marcus Child 2010-2020 Caps: 172 Commonwealth Games: silver 2018

Growing up in a hockey family in South Auckland, Child followed in the footsteps of his mother Sheryl Law and older brother Simon Child in donning the New Zealand shirt. 

Smith said Child was another fantastic player to come out of Auckland’s Southern Hockey Club.

“Marcus is fast, athletic, has quick skills and a tactical appreciation for the game. He was a key contributor to the Gold Coast silver medal-winning team.”

“Marcus is a man that contributes not only on the field but also how he operates off the pitch where he always was a protector of the group. We often had conversations about not only hockey and how we can play even better but also our team dynamics, behaviours and to strive for enjoyment of our time playing for the Vantage Black Sticks”. 

Child said it was a privilege to play hockey all over the world. 

“The highlights have been the people that I have met as well as being able to live out my dreams of playing at the Hockey World Cup in the Hague as well as winning a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games”.

“I am looking forward to moving into a new role at work and beginning a new chapter of my life”.

Cory Bennett 2013-2020 Caps: 110 Commonwealth Games: silver 2018

Bennett formed a formidable defensive combination and played a critical role in helping the Black Sticks qualify for Tokyo. 

Smith described Bennett as a very consistent player.

“He is intensely competitive, is always in for the battle, and is a highly skilled player. You add to that his penalty corner prowess and there were multiple ways he could make an impact.”

Bennett said the black shirt meant so much to him growing up and still does.

“I always felt that if I couldn’t put everything into the shirt, it is time to call it quits”.

“Something I will always miss is the brotherhood you have within this special team. I have many great on-field memories – with the standout being a Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. I have numerous off-field memories that I will cherish for years to come. Travelling the world with a bunch of mates all trying their best to make their country proud – what more could you ask for”.

“I have given eight years of my life to, this team with the goal of leaving the shirt in a better place”. 

  • December 17th, 2020 in
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