Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Black Sticks women, men relishing underdog tag

After surprising many by making the quarter-finals of the Hockey World Cup, the women's Black Sticks are adamant they can defend their Commonwealth Games title. 

With several players retiring, the defending champions are undergoing a team rebuild, with many not expecting them to even medal in Birmingham. 

Under the watchful gaze of New Zealand House, the women's Black Sticks are more than happy flying under the radar. 

"We have so much belief in each other", defender Megan Hull said.

Despite being gold medallists on the Gold Coast, the team has been written off by many, with just four players remaining from four years ago.

But the young squad defied expectations, making the quarter-finals at the World Cup, and they’re hungry for more.

Hull believes it brings greater determination.

"I honestly think it does. We never feel like we can’t not take the game and win," she said. 

Meanwhile, the Black Sticks men are just as determined to prove the doubters wrong. If there were few expectations on the women, there’s even less for them.

Their silver medal from four years ago is a distant memory.

But as veteran defender Blair Tarrant reveals, the team welcomes the challenge.

"I like it…yeah absolutely," he said.

Both teams are ranked outside the Commonwealth’s top three, but coach Darren Smith is having none of it.

Their backs are against the wall, just the way they like it.

Join us for live updates of the Birmigham Commonwealth Games, starting Friday