Megan Hull playing for the New Zealand Development team last year. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

HOCKEY

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

Former Wairarapa College student Megan Hull will get a chance to add to her four international caps with the Black Sticks Women next year.

The talented 22-year-old Auckland-based defender made her debut for the Black Sticks in 2016, and has been named in a 25-strong squad that will come together for the 2019 season.

Another former Waicol student – Dane Lett – has been a regular in the Black Sticks this season and is preparing for the men’s Hockey World Cup, starting in India later this month.

Lett was also included in the men’s squad for the 2019 season.

Hull grew up on a farm in Pongaroa, before boarding at Waicol for her secondary school years.

In 2011, she won the national Federation Cup tournament with the Waicol First XI when she was just 15 years old, in a team that featured four New Zealand Under-18 representatives.

They were Hull, Morgan Percy, Katherine van Woerkom and Felicity Reidy.

Hull said it was a “huge privilege” to find out she was back in the Black Sticks squad.

“I had a debut at the end of 2016 and then I went overseas and played a bit, and came back this year and based myself up here in Auckland.

“I had a bit of a crack at it and it’s an awesome environment – they’re all really driven people and I feel really lucky to be a part of it.”

There will be extra excitement within the squad with the inaugural FIH Pro League set to begin in January.

The women’s and men’s pro leagues will each be comprised of nine of the best hockey nations and there will be 144 matches played worldwide.

At the conclusion of the round robin, the top four teams from each league will head to the grand final weekend, which will be held in June in the Netherlands.

The FIH Pro League replaces the Champions Trophy and World League Semi and Final.

Hull said it was something the players were looking forward to.

“Next year is a bit of a new kettle of fish for everybody, with the pro league coming up.

“It’s hugely exciting and a huge honour for me – I think I’m really lucky to be amongst it.”

Hull said her time at Waicol had helped set the foundation that saw her progress to the international ranks, and she praised the efforts of coach Willie Schaefer and a dedicated set of parents and supporters who worked hard to help the players thrive.

“We had an awesome group of players and I had some of the best times of my life playing hockey at Waicol.

“Willie was the one who helped a lot of us carry on and pursue hockey – he really put a lot of time into us.

“I think through that period, especially looking back on it now, we were such good mates and it was really good fun.”

Hull played for Capital as a region of origin player in this year’s National Hockey League, alongside some of her former teammates from her days at Waicol.

She said it was great to see the amount of sporting success stories that continue to come out of Wairarapa.

“There is a lot of amazing success that comes out of Wairarapa – I think we’ve really punched above our weight.”