Ireland relish tests Down Under, says star Frazer
Ireland women are to take part in a prestigious tournament in New Zealand next year and they will be joined by nine other nations, seven of which will be using the event to prepare for the Rio Olympics.
Three of the world's top four teams - Australia, Argentina and New Zealand - will be among those participating in the Hawke's Bay Invitational tournament, scheduled for April 2-12.
They will also be joined by China (world ranked 5), South Korea (8), Japan (10), India (13), along with two teams ranked lower than Ireland (15), in Canada (19) and Chile (21).
Ireland captain Megan Frazer is excited about the prospect of competing against some of the world's best and she views it as a huge compliment that her team have been invited.
"It's a massive coup for Ireland as we are the only team from Europe taking part in what will certainly be a massive tournament for us," said the Ulster Elks midfielder.
"It's an indication of the improved reputation of Irish women's hockey on the world stage after we narrowly failed to qualify for Rio.
"Not making it to the Olympics meant it would otherwise have been a quiet year for us as far as competitive matches are concerned but now we can look forward to a high quality tournament."
The invitation to take part in the New Zealand showpiece means that Ireland's women are now guaranteed to participate in at least 11 matches in 2016, with a five-Test series against Spain already confirmed for January in Valencia.