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Men's Black Sticks coach Colin Batch says dealing with tough conditions will be one of the biggest challenges facing his team at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which takes place in Malaysia tomorrow.

 

The six-nation tournament, which has been running since 1983 and was won by New Zealand in 2012, is being used by Batch as preparation for bigger events in 2015.

"It's always challenging coming to Malaysia. The conditions are so much different – it's humid and hot," Batch said.

"We do want to do well here, but it's part of the bigger picture, which is achieving a good performance at World League in June.

"So we have this tournament and then a series in Hobart in May against Korea, Pakistan and Australia."

The World League, which runs over a two-year period, allows countries automatic qualification for the Olympics. If New Zealand are successful in Argentina in June they'll make it to the final in India in November, which will be contested by eight countries.

For the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Batch said he'd look to give all of his players a run.

"With the heat being a factor we don't want players getting fatigued," he said. 

"Hydration is an important part of performing well here and we will use our interchange thoroughly – I expect all of the players to have good time on the pitch.

"We'll go through our normal recovery routines of jogging, stretching and ice baths. Sometimes the players aren't too keen on ice baths, but in a hot climate like Malaysia, they do enjoy it."

Batch felt that if the Black Sticks performed well in the tournament it would show the plans and processes in place were working.

"One of the nice parts about being at a tournament is that you have five different teams to play against," he said.

"We played Malaysia in a practice match on Thursday night. We won 1-0 and there were some good signs, but the first match against them on Monday will be a totally different story. There will be a noisy crowd here supporting them, so we've got to control those sorts of things too.

"All the games are different challenges in their own way, but you've got to look at Australia as being the favourites, they've performed well over a number of years now and have won the last two events here."