Six players with 200-plus caps each named

Kayla Whitelock. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Kayla Whitelock. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Two new caps and a former captain striving for her fifth Olympics are the main features of the Black Sticks Women’s squad named yesterday.

Black Sticks coach Graham Shaw has been able to call upon six players with more than 200 international caps for the all-important 2021 season including Kayla Whitelock who, if selected for Tokyo, will be joining an elite group of New Zealanders to attend five Olympics.

The two uncapped players in the squad of 25 are Anna Crowley and Tyler Lench, who both impressed the selectors during the recent Premier Hockey League.

Otago’s Tessa Jopp returns to the squad after missing out last year.

Black Sticks record-holders Stacey Michelsen (287 caps) and Olivia Merry (112 goals) were in fine touch in the PHL.

Michelsen was named most valuable player.

Stacey Michelsen. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Stacey Michelsen. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The pair will be central to the team’s medal hopes in Tokyo.

PHL champion the Central Falcons, who went undefeated in the inaugural league, have been rewarded with eight of the champion team being named.

The Falcons young strike line was the envy of the competition and rising stars Kaitlin Cotter, Olivia Shannon, Holly Pearson and Hope Ralph have all been offered contracts for 2021.

Shaw acknowledged the number of quality players in the group who are very driven to achieve next year.

"The squad is packed with experience from multiple Olympians combined with exciting young players who tracked superbly through 2020 and displayed some excellent performances in the Premier League," Shaw said.

"Hopefully, we can keep improving leading into Tokyo".

Tess Jopp. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Tess Jopp. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

"When we return to training in January we will emphasise building connections on and off the field to create a cohesive team.

"We have outstanding leaders in this group that will bring invaluable experience to the younger players."

The 2021 season is set to be a big one for the Black Sticks with the upcoming Oceania Cup, postponed Tokyo Olympics and the resumption of the second season of the FIH Hockey Pro League.

This will be followed in 2022 by the World Cup and Commonwealth Games.

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