Captain Blair Tarrant is set to make a return to the turf during the Vantage Black Sticks Men’s tour of Japan and India next month.
The 28-year-old veteran of 179 tests has recovered from a frustrating back injury which saw him unable to compete at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Tarrant leads a playing group of 20, including goalkeeper Dominic Dixon and striker Dylan Thomas who are both in line to make their debut, for four matches against Japan and one against Germany in Shiga and Gifu, Japan from 4-15 July.
Dixon and Thomas will then return home to New Zealand while the remaining 18 players head to Bangalore, India for three tests from 15-24 July as preparation for December’s Hockey World Cup in the same location.
Head coach Darren Smith said the tour is timely for the group, with an opportunity for some fresh faces to get international experience ahead of World Cup selections later in the year.
“To have the ability to spend time in Japan and India against very challenging competition gives us a chance to test our on and off field systems ahead of the World Cup and Olympics,” Smith said.
“It will be great to have Blair Tarrant back on the turf. He is a very important cog for our squad both as an outstanding player and the leadership role he undertakes. We look forward to seeing him in the Vantage Black Sticks shirt again.
“Dom and Dylan have been impressive during the past 12 months and recently in training so we are excited to see how they perform at the top level.”
Squad for Japan Tour: David Brydon, Marcus Child, Dominic Dixon, George Enersen, Daniel Harris, Stephen Jenness, Richard Joyce Dane Lett, Shea Mcaleese, Harry Miskimmin, George Muir, Dominic Newman, Jared Panchia, Hayden Phillips, Brad Read, Nick Ross, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant (C), Dylan Thomas, Nic Woods
Squad for India Tour: David Brydon, Marcus Child, George Enersen, Daniel Harris, Stephen Jenness, Richard Joyce, Dane Lett, Shea Mcaleese, Harry Miskimmin, George Muir, Dominic Newman, Jared Panchia, Hayden Phillips, Brad Read, Nick Ross, Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant (C), Nic Woods.