Black Sticks captain Blair Tarrant is to make a welcome return to the turf on New Zealand’s men’s tour of Japan and India next month.
Tarrant, 28, has recovered from a frustrating back injury which sidelined him during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in April.
The veteran of 179 tests is back to lead a group of 20 to Japan for four internationals against the hosts and one against Germany from July 4-15.
Eighteen of the group, minus newcomers Dominic Dixon and Dylan Thomas, will then go to Bangalore for three tests from July 15-24 as preparation for December’s World Cup. The cup is being staged in Bhubaneshwar but that turf is not ready for next month’s matches, hence the change of location.
The trip offers strong reconnoitre opportunities for both the 2020 Olympics and the World Cup.
“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,” head coach Darren Smith said.
”(Tarrant) is a very important cog for our squad both as an outstanding player and the leadership role he undertakes,” Smith said of the returning captain.
New Zealand squad:
Goalkeepers: Dominic Dixon (Central), George Enersen (Canterbury), Richard Joyce (North Harbour).
Defenders: Dane Lett, Harry Miskimmin, Brad Read (Capital), Shea McAleese (Central), Kane Russell, Blair Tarrant (c, Southern).
Midfielders: David Brydon, Dominic Newman (Canterbury), Marcus Child (Auckland), George Muir (North Harbour), Hayden Phillips (Central), Nick Ross (Southern), Nic Woods (Midlands).
Strikers: Daniel Harris, Stephen Jenness (Capital), Jared Panchia (Auckland), Dylan Thomas (Central).
* Dixon and Thomas only play the Japanese leg of the tour.