Veterans back for Black Sticks

Kayla Whitelock will return to the Black Sticks. Photo: Getty Images
Kayla Whitelock will return to the Black Sticks. Photo: Getty Images
The Black Sticks women have welcomed back two hockey legends for their 2020 season, with Kayla Whitelock and Gemma McCaw coming out of retirement.

As the team build towards the 2020 Olympic games, coach Graham Shaw named several highly experienced former players returning to next year's squad which sees the return of Whitelock, McCaw, Julia King and Rachel McCann.

Whitelock and McCaw will feature in the squad for the first time since the 2016 Rio Games.

There is also a mixture of youth with Kaitlin Cotter (17) and Holly Pearson (21) included having been rewarded with national contracts on the back of some impressive form in the 2019 season, where they will join Central teammate Olivia Shannon (18) who has been selected for her second national squad.

The side will again be led by Stacey Michelsen who in the 2019 season became the most capped Black Sticks women's player of all time when she overtook the record of 274 caps held by Emily Gaddum.

Michelsen, who has previously been to the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, will be aiming to lead her side to the first medal in the programme's history at the upcoming Games.

There are six players with more than 200 test caps in the side and this experience will be vital as they prepare to improve on their sixth placing at the inaugural FIH Hockey Pro League in 2019.

"We feel the squad has a good mix of youth and experience as we start building towards the 2020 Tokyo games," said Shaw.

"We have been lucky to welcome back Kayla and Gemma after they stepped away to start families. We look forward to the invaluable experience that they will bring and the pivotal role they will play in helping our team towards our goal of medalling at the Olympic Games."

Shaw hopes to build on the Black Sticks' 2019 season.

"The FIH Hockey Pro League and Oceania Cup have allowed us to test ourselves against the best opposition from around the world. Having booked our place at the Tokyo Olympics we have been able to plan for the year ahead, which will allow us to have the best shot possible to perform at the Olympic Games in 2020."

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