Tarrant, Black Sticks set for World Cup bid

The Black Sticks will take on France early tomorrow morning in the first match of their  World Cup campaign.

The men’s team will be seeking to build on the success of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games when it came away with a silver medal.

The  Black Sticks will be led by experienced defender Blair Tarrant who returns to the squad after missing the Commonwealth Games due to injury.  They will be looking to improve on their most recent World Cups  in which they finished seventh in 2014 and ninth in 2010.

The side will play France at 2.30am tomorrow at Bhubaneswar in India, where all the games are being played. France is ranked 20th in the world  and New Zealand  ninth, so the Black Sticks will be looking to make a strong start.

The men will then have two further games in  their  pool.  They will take on Olympic champion Argentina, a side  the Black Sticks have not come up against since before  their  Rio de Janeiro campaign. That game is on next Tuesday at 2.30am. The men also come up against eighth-ranked Spain in the final game of pool play on December 7.

This will be the first time head coach Darren Smith has had  all players available since the team competed on the Gold Coast. The most experienced member of the squad is Shea McAleese (272 caps), who will be looking to add a World Cup medal to his two Commonwealth Games medals.

There are eight players returning from the 2014 team — Marcus Child, Jared Panchia, Kane Russell, Tarrant, Arun Panchia, McAleese, Stephen Jenness and Hugo Inglis.

Coach Darren Smith heads into his fourth World Cup and first as head coach. Smith competed in two World Cups as a player  in which his best finish was ninth in 2002, and was an assistant coach in the 2010 campaign.

All games will be played at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar  which  was the 2014 Champions Trophy venue. The stadium’s capacity has been increased for the event to 15,000 seats.The tournament has been extended to 16 teams, split into four pools.

The Black Sticks have never made the semifinals of the World Cup.


Black Sticks

Cory Bennett, Marcus Child, George Enersen, Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness, Richard Joyce, Dane Lett, Shea McAleese, George Muir, Dominic Newman, Jared Panchia, Arun Panchia, Hayden Phillips, Nick Ross, Kane Russell, Aidan Sarikaya, Blair Tarrant (captain), Nic Woods.

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