Simon Child made a comeback to the New Zealand men’s hockey team after a three-year hiatus – the 34-year-old Auckland guy, who had played in the Hockey India League for Delhi Waveriders, achieved a personal milestone when he became the fifth most capped Black Sticks men’s hockey player, surpassing former captain Arun Panchia’s record of 287 caps when he featured in the 2022-23 FIH Pro League tie against Spain at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar.
The tall forward made the occasion a special one as he was named of the Player of the Tournament as New Zealand rode on a Kane Russell final-minute goal to hold Spain 1-1 in regulation time and subsequently they won the shootout 1-0 to halt their sequence of three straight defeats. The vastly experienced forward scored in New Zealand’s 2-3 loss to Spain as well as in their 4-7 defeat to India. Child now just behind Shea Mcaleese (350), Phillip Burrows (343), Ryan Archibald (327), and Dean Couzins (318).
It may be worth recalling that Arun Panchia had captained the Black Sticks men’s hockey team and had retired from international hockey in 2020. The former midfielder made his senior international debut in 2009 and was part of the New Zealand team at the 2016 Rio Olympics as well as the 2010 and 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Child made his senior international debut against Malaysia in 2005 and has featured in two World Cups (2006 & 2014), three Olympics (2008, 2012 & 2016) and three Commonwealth Games (2006, 2010 & 2014). He had captained the Black Sticks from 2014 to 2016 and turned injury-prone after the 2016 Olympics, which forced him out of the national team for almost three years.