Hockey: Black Sticks still in mix, Couzins says

New Zealand captain Dean Couzins is calling for his side to channel its frustrations into an all-out assault on England at the Champions Trophy today.


The clash with England is the Black Sticks' final game of pool play and the result will potentially dictate who they meet in the quarterfinals.

Sunday night's 4-2 loss to India left the Black Sticks reeling at the bottom of pool A.

"We're frustrated and disappointed with how we played and that's still biting more today than last night," Couzins said yesterday.

"Part of that is the quality of opposition you play but you can control that a bit by what you're doing and that's where the frustration comes in."

With a new coach in Colin Batch, three players making their debut, and several other new players to the squad, it could be argued the Black Sticks are playing well against world-class opposition.

But Couzins is not one to make excuses and is confident the team can still find another level.

"I think the new guys have gone well. Alex [Shaw] is playing a lot of minutes at the back and doing some really good stuff. Devon [Manchester] debuted last night and I thought he played well.

"All the new guys have done a really good job and they're being well supported by the coaching staff and other players so it's good to see."

England was beaten by India but impressed in its second outing by hammering Olympic champion Germany 4-1.

For the first time at this year's Champions Trophy, the tournament consists of three pool games which feed into cross-over quarterfinal fixtures.

If a team tops pool A, it will play the bottom team in pool B in a sudden-death clash.

"The good thing for us is we're right in the mix still and everyone will be," Couzins said.

"It'll be about crunch games and the good thing about that is it replicates the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Olympics where there's often onegame at the tournament that's crucial to progressing or not.

"It will a good learning curve for us, I think. It's all about putting out our best performance in those crunch games so there's everything still to play for."

There was good news for Black Sticks forward Stephen Jenness, injured in Sunday's game. X-rays revealed he has not broken his hand.

 

 


Champions Trophy

 

Black Sticks v England Today, 3.30pm

Live on Sky Sport 2