Exciting youngsters named in Olympic hockey squads
Sean Findlay, a newcomer with just four caps, and his mentor Shea McAleese, heading to his fourth Olympics with 314 caps for his country, are the main features of the New Zealand men’s hockey squad named today for the Tokyo Olympics.
The women’s squad features three outstanding young players Olivia Shannon, Katie Doar and Hope Ralph alongside the experienced duo of captain Stacey Michelsen and vice-captain Samantha Charlton who are both heading to their third Olympics.
The squads of 16 feature five women (Ella Gunson, Michelsen, Charlton, Rose Keddell and Olivia Merry) and five men (Steve Edwards, McAleese, Stephen Jenness, Hugo Inglis and Blair Tarrant) with more than 200 caps in black, while Edwards, Inglis, Nick Wilson and Jenness will also be attending their third Olympics.
New Zealand Men’s Head Coach Darren Smith said while it was an experienced team they were taking to Tokyo it was also the first major tournament for a number of players.
“It’s a pretty experienced group but it’s also the first pinnacle event for players like Sam Lane who have previously missed out through injury or Jacob Smith and Nick Ross who have been rewarded for their perseverance. They’ve shown they’re really determined to be there.”
Smith said it was an emotional phone call to the bolter of the squad Findlay, who is the current New Zealand Under-21 Player of the Year.
“Sean is a real go-getter and an incredibly versatile player. Shea has had a big influence over Sean’s career and it was a special moment when they got to play together in the recent series with Australia. Shea was equally as excited when I called him.”
New Zealand Women’s Head Coach Graham Shaw admitted it was one of the toughest teams to select with only four internationals in 15 months.
“With the lack of opportunities we’ve had it was a difficult squad to select. It’s certainly been very unusual circumstances but I think we’ve got a balanced squad that poses a massive threat on attack alongside a strong defensive unit.”
Shaw was excited by the potential of the young trio of Shannon, Doar and Ralph.
“We have some exciting young talent in our ranks especially Olivia (Shannon), Katie (Doar) and Hope (Ralph) who have stood up in recent years and all have huge futures in the black dress.”
New Zealand Women’s Captain Michelsen, currently the most capped New Zealand women’s player of all time with 291 matches, said the team was pleased to be finally heading to Tokyo after such a long wait.
“All the players are so thrilled to hear their names selected for Tokyo. It has been a long training period leading to this point, but now, with less than 50 days to go, you can feel the excitement amongst the group.”
New Zealand Men’s Captain Tarrant, off to his second Olympics, said the recent series against Australia had given the team a much-needed taste of international competition that the European sides had been enjoying recently.
“The Kookaburras put us under real pressure and we want more of that so we can get better and be playing as well as we can come Tokyo time.”
The Black Sticks squads head to Perth next Friday to play two doubleheaders against Australia on 26 and 27 June.
New Zealand Women’s squad for Tokyo
|Samantha Charlton (vice-captain)||Tauranga||255 (8)||Midfielder|
|Tarryn Davey||Thames Valley||66 (1)||Defender|
|Stephanie Dickins||North Harbour||27 (2)||Defender|
|Ella Gunson||Northland||224 (11)||Defender|
|Megan Hull||Wairarapa||35 (1)||Defender|
|Rose Keddell||Tauranga||211 (16)||Midfielder|
|Julia King||Auckland||126 (9)||Midfielder|
|Olivia Merry||Canterbury||236 (113)||Striker|
|Stacey Michelsen (captain)||Northland||291 (34)||Midfielder|
|Hope Ralph||Taranaki||11 (2)||Striker|
|Olivia Shannon||Manawatu||29 (4)||Striker|
|Kelsey Smith||Nelson||99 (14)||Midfielder|
|Elizabeth Thompson||Auckland||191 (12)||Defender|
New Zealand Men’s squad for Tokyo
|Steve Edwards||North Harbour||224 (23)||Midfielder|
|Sean Findlay||Hawke’s Bay||4 (1)||Midfielder|
|Hugo Inglis (vice-captain)||Otago||235 (66)||Midfielder|
|Stephen Jenness||Wellington||252 (91)||Striker|
|Sam Lane||Canterbury||68 (20)||Striker|
|Dane Lett||Wellington||81 (2)||Defender|
|Shea McAleese||Hawke’s Bay||314 (34)||Defender|
|Jared Panchia||Auckland||137 (26)||Midfielder|
|Nick Ross||Otago||131 (4)||Midfielder|
|Kane Russell||Otago||165 (71)||Defender|
|Jacob Smith||Wellington||89 (12)||Striker|
|Blair Tarrant (captain)||Otago||215 (4)||Defender|
|Dylan Thomas||Hawke’s Bay||30 (2)||Midfielder|
|Nick Wilson||Manawatu||174 (76)||Striker|
|Nic Woods||Waikato||131 (21)||Defender|
- June 10th, 2021 in