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Black Sticks captain retires
21 Nov 2005 01:28

Black Sticks captain retires

Hockey NZ: Black Sticks Captain Simon Towns has announced his retirement from the national men’s team, ending his prolific career as New Zealand’s most capped international player.

Towns went into the just-completed three match Oceania Cup series on 214 caps, equal with the previously highest capped international, the now-retired Umesh Parag of Wellington.

The 33-year-old Aucklander retires with 217 caps.

Towns has played for New Zealand for 14 years. He played his first international against Kenya, at the Indira Gandhi Tournament in India, in 1992.

In addition to captaining the side, Towns has played the pivotal centre-half position, where his experience will be hard to replace. He is respected internationally for his gutsy performances, tactical awareness and commitment.

Towns decided to retire three weeks ago, but opted to play the final Oceania Cup series in Fiji, following the retirement last month of senior defender Dion Gosling and with the experienced Wayne McIndoe being unavailable.

“I had a talk with Dad (Black Sticks Coach Kevin Towns) and decided it would be better to play in this series,” he said.

Towns said the last five years of his career have been the most enjoyable. The highlight was New Zealand’s 7-1 demolition of Pakistan in the semi-final of the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.

“I have lost a captain, a friend and a player who is a key to our game. I wish Simon well. He has given so much to the game as a captain, an important player on the field and a great leader on and off the field,” Black Sticks coach Kevin Towns said.

“Simon has a real physical presence in the game and plays end to end. He gives 100 percent and has played himself to exhaustion on many occasions.”

“Simon Towns is a natural leader who reads the game well, possesses superb defensive ability and has a fighting spirit and qualities that would rank him as one of the most respected players to have ever represented New Zealand,2 Hockey NZ CEO Ramesh Patel said.

“Under Simon's leadership the Black Sticks men's team have become a respected force in world hockey with a Commonwealth Games silver medal in Manchester in 2002 and their superb 6th position finish at the 2004 Athens Olympics,” he said.

“Simon is another of a list of recent experienced internationals that Hockey NZ are indebted to for their leadership and long service to our sport."

Oceania Cup - Men
Match 1
Match 2
NZL 16 FIJ 0
Match 3
AUS 26 FIJ 0
* AUS qualify for the 2006 BDO Hockey World Cup
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