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Next generation the key for Kiwi women’s hockey team

New Zealand women’s hockey Head Coach Graham Shaw is looking to the next generation of players to step up in Tokyo in a tournament where there are so many unknowns.

Shaw said it was very difficult to predict how teams would line up at the Olympics after the Covid-disrupted preparations.

“There are just so many unknowns. There have been so few international games and so many teams we haven’t seen much of, so all we can do is focus on what we can bring.”

And that is where the Irishman gets excited talking about the future stars in his team for Tokyo.

“While it will be Megan Hull’s first Olympics, she’s becoming a world-class player with her passing skill set, composure on the ball and her one-on-one ability in the tackle.

“We’re also very excited about the potential of Katie Doar in the midfield who has been superb over the past few months, and Olivia Shannon with her speed and skill will be a real handful upfront for any team.”

While everyone was frustrated at having to spend an extra two weeks in Perth after the FIH Pro League matches against Australia, Shaw said it had strengthened their resilience and allowed some injury niggles to come right including Doar who had fractured her thumb.

Looking through the Kiwi team’s pool matches in Tokyo, it’s a tough start against world no.3 Argentina followed by the home side Japan.

“Argentina first up will be a really difficult game against a very skilful and quick side while Japan, who we have little footage of, will be the most suited to the conditions.”

Shaw is familiar with their next opponents Spain after coaching in Europe and says while ranked lower than the sixth-ranked Kiwis they have the potential to surprise after winning bronze at the 2018 World Cup.

New Zealand know their next opponents Australia inside out after a wealth of close games recently, while their final opponents China are another unknown in Tokyo.

Alongside the team’s exciting young talent, Shaw will rely on the experience of captain Stacey Michelsen and vice-captain Sam Charlton as well as the strike power of Olivia Merry in Tokyo.

Charlton and Michelsen, who is currently the most capped New Zealand women’s player of all time with 292 caps, will be making their third appearances at an Olympics in Tokyo after fourth place finishes in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Merry holds the all-time record of 114 goals for her country and recently won the top goalscorer award in the FIH Pro League.

In a recent rule change, the Olympic squads have been expanded to 18 players with 16 to be named for each match. Otago midfielder Tessa Jopp and Taranaki striker Holly Pearson have been added to the New Zealand women’s squad.

New Zealand Women: Ella Gunson, Stacey Michelsen (Northland); Stephanie Dickins (North Harbour); Katie Doar, Julia King, Grace O’Hanlon (GK), Elizabeth Thompson (Auckland); Tarryn Davey (Thames Valley); Samantha Charlton, Frances Davies, Rose Keddell (Tauranga); Holly Pearson, Hope Ralph (Taranaki); Olivia Shannon (Manawatu); Megan Hull (Wairarapa); Kelsey Smith (Nelson); Olivia Merry (Canterbury), Tessa Jopp (Otago).

For shirt numbers, caps and goals click here.

New Zealand Women’s matches in Tokyo (NZ time):

Sun 25 July 3.15pm : vs Argentina (world ranking 3)
Mon 26 July 11.45pm: vs Japan (14)
Wed 28 July 2.45pm: vs Spain (7)
Fri 30 July 12.15am: vs Australia (2)
Sat 31 July 12.30pm: vs China (10)
Mon 2 August: Quarterfinals                           
Wed 4 August: Semifinals                              
Fri 6 August: Final/bronze medal

Check out how to watch the hockey action.

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  • July 20th, 2021 in
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