Dane Lett training with the Black Sticks. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

HOCKEY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Dalefield captain Dane Lett will get his first taste of World Cup hockey action when he heads away with the Black Sticks in a couple of weeks.

Lett was named in an 18-man squad that will contest the upcoming Hockey World Cup, to be held in India from November 28 to December 16.

Lett has been a regular in the squad in recent times, and has now played 35 matches.

But he said it was still special to finally have his spot confirmed after a lengthy build-up.

“It’s pretty exciting – it makes it all pretty real once you know you’re confirmed to go.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Lett had his first experience of playing at a major global tournament earlier this year at the Commonwealth Games, but this will be his first trip to a World Cup.

The Black Sticks were able to name a familiar team for the event, and the squad features eight players with over 100 caps.

The team is training in Auckland, but will head to Malaysia in a couple of weeks for three matches and to finalise their World Cup preparations.

“We’ve got three matches against them, and we’ll be training over there as well,” Lett said.

“It’s a bit of a pre-camp before we head on to India, so it will be good to spend some time together and get everything in line.”

Captain Blair Tarrant [186 caps] returns to the squad after missing the Black Sticks’ silver-medal run at the Commonwealth Games due to injury.

The side will be looking to improve on their most recent world cups, after finishing seventh in 2014 and ninth in 2010.

An under-strength Black Sticks side lost a home series against Canada last month, but Lett said the matches were still valuable for their preparation.

“From an individual perspective, I think just getting some games was really beneficial.

“It had been about a month since NHL [National Hockey League] so it was good to get some matches in and get back into hockey.

“It would have been tough to go into the next month without having played any proper matches.”

He said the familiarity of the squad should hold them in good stead for the world cup.

“It’s similar to what we had at the Commonwealth Games and other games this year.

“I think everyone is pretty excited about going over there and doing what we can.”

Black Sticks team
Cory Bennett, Marcus Child, George Enersen, Hugo Inglis, Stephen Jenness, Richard Joyce, Dane Lett, Shea McAleese, George Mui, Dominic Newman, Jared Panchia, Arun Panchia [vc], Hayden Phillips, Nick Ross, Kane Russell, Aidan Sarikaya, Blair Tarrant [c], Nic Woods.