Simon Child is back in black and making another charge for success in the Black Sticks men’s team.
Child has been selected in an 18-strong squad who will play India and Spain in October and November in the 2022/23 FIH Pro-League.
“I should be able to get up to speed pretty quick and help the boys bang some goals in up front,” he said.
Speaking to 1News at his first training session in over two years, the 34-year-old admits it will be a baptism by fire.
“Hockey is a fast-paced game and it’s moved even quicker so the skill is still there, the brain still works at the same speed, just got to make sure the hands and feet are working at the same speed.”
It’s the first time he’s been selected in the side since the beginning of 2020 when he helped the side qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, which he missed due to personal commitments.
“It was really disappointing to miss Tokyo,” Child said.
“I worked really hard to get back into the team and had Covid not come along it would have been an amazing Olympic experience.”
Child will look to add to his 284 caps and 142 goals for New Zealand. He is just eight goals away from chasing down current leading goal scorer and Black Sticks veteran Phil Burrows.
“I would be lying if that wasn’t a motivation,” Child said.
“Probably the biggest motivating factor has been during lockdown, I watched lots of Netflix, the Last Dance twice. And seeing a whole bunch of athletes who are older than me and at the very top of their game, that kind of gave me a new perception and belief that I could come back and do it.”
“I’m 34, going on 35 in April and I’ve maintained physically pretty well – I will need to do a few extra sprints at training to catch up to these young fellas,” he said.
Head coach Greg Nicol is grateful to be able to call on Child’s experience.
“He’s played a full season of club and has been outstanding at the club league, he’s matured and been through this before.
“He’s in a good head space and body space and we will test it out in the pro league and see how he goes.”
Nicol has an almost full complement of players to select from with only Dane Lett and Hugo Inglis making themselves unavailable.
The matches in India will play an important part in preparations for the World Cup next year, also taking place in India.
The World Cup is in January, with NZ drawn against Netherlands, Malaysia, and Chile in their pool.
Dom Dixon, George Enersen, Brad Read, Simon Yorston, Blair Tarrant, Kane Russell, Nic Woods, Charl Ulrich, Aidan Sarikaya, Hayden Phillips, Joe Morrison, Sean Findlay, Simon Child, Dylan Thomas, Sam Lane, Sam Hiha, Jake Smith, Kim Kingstone
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