Russell relishing rejoining NZ for Nations Cup

Otago defender Kane Russell is looking forward to rejoining the Black Sticks for the Nations Cup.

The drag-flick specialist will join the squad once his commitments in the German Bundesliga wrap up.

Hamburger Polo has made it into the semifinals and Russell has been in fine form. He is their leading scorer.

"It’s been a great season here in Germany but my eyes are now firmly turned towards Paris and helping get the team in the best place possible to be competitive at the Olympics," Russell said.

"We’ve got a great mix of youth and experience but everyone is contributing at a high level and we’re heading to Poland with every intention of winning the tournament.”

The men’s Nations Cup will be staged in Poland from May 31 to June 9. The women’s tournament is in Spain from June 3 to 9.

The Nations Cup is a good opportunity for the Black Sticks men to continue their Olympic preparation and for the women to build upon their strong performances against Japan as they look to the future.

The men are fresh from a successful Sultan Azlan Shah Cup campaign in Malaysia, where they finished third despite battling illness within the team and missing some key players.

Sam Lane, Simon Yorston and Charlie Morrison are all unavailable due to injury, but a large contingent of European-based players return from club duty and Simon Child is also back.

The Black Sticks women welcome back some veteran players such as Megan Hull, Liz Thompson and Sam Child.

Hull said the Nations Cup represented an opportunity to respond to the disappointment of missing out on Olympic qualification.

"It’s always an honour to pull on the black singlet, especially with this group of girls," she said.

"The future is bright and we’re setting out to prove that we are a top-level team that can go toe to toe with the world’s best.”

The Black Sticks women will face Japan, Chile and Canada in pool play, while Ireland, Italy, South Korea and Spain compete in the other pool.

The Kiwi men are in pool A with Austria, Korea, Poland and South Africa, and Canada, France, Malaysia and Pakistan are in pool B.

The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals.

The men start their campaign against Poland, while the women start against Chile.

Black Sticks

The squads

Men: Dom Dixon, Leon Hayward, Blair Tarrant, Dane Lett, Kane Russell, Scott Cosslett, Brad Read, Nic Woods, Joe Morrison, Malachi Buschl, Hayden Phillips, Isaac Houlbrooke, Sean Findlay, Aidan Sarikaya, Sam Hiha, Simon Child, Hugo Inglis, Jake Smith, Scott Boyde, Jonty Elmes.

Women: Brooke Roberts, Kirsty Nation, Megan Hull, Steph Dickins, Frances Davies, Liz Thompson, Kaitlin Cotter, Casey Crowley, Sam Child, Katie Doar, Hannah Gravenall, Emma Rainey, Emma Findlay, Rose Tynan, Olivia Shannon, Jessie Anderson, Anna Willocks, Hannah Cotter.