Hockey: Great Britain pleased with Mark Hager appointment despite culture allegations

Great Britain Hockey and funding body UK Sport are confident former Black Sticks coach Mark Hager is the right man to lead the Brits towards next year's Olympics, despite allegations about his toxic culture with New Zealand.

Last Saturday, Hager was named coach of the Great Britain and England women's teams, after a successful 10-year stint with the Black Sticks.

The former Australian international took charge of the Black Sticks in 2009, and guided them to two fourth-place finishes at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games success, but his time with New Zealand ended in controversy.

His appointment with Great Britain and England came despite an on-going review into the national team culture, which was launched in September, after allegations of a negative team environment.

The 54-year-old accidentally sent an email to the entire team, naming and shaming individual players for their performance and effort, after finishing 11th at the women's World Cup.

The findings from the review were expected to be released in November, but now won't be announced until the end of this month.

Hockey New Zealand denied reports that he would lose his job over the review and said he left the Black Sticks role on his own terms.

Great Britain and England Hockey performance director Ed Barney told English newspaper The Times that it was aware of the review, but were confident Hager was the right man to lead next year's Tokyo Olympic campaign.

"We have undertaken an extended due diligence process to understand the review's context," Barney said.

"We spoke to a number of people close to their programme and following Mark's resignation, we had detailed conversations with Hockey New Zealand, which further reassured our confidence in Mark and his appointment.

"Our recruitment process was exceptionally clear on what we are looking for in a head coach, and Mark's profile fits very well with the current needs of the programme. As an organisation, we review our performance and team culture after every major tournament.

"We are very confident that Mark will make a significant contribution, and allow both players and staff to fulfil their potential, as we look ahead to the new FIH Pro League and Tokyo."

A UK Sport staff member sat on the recruitment panel and was also happy with the Hager appointment.

"We did raise questions with GB Hockey prior to the final appointment being made," UK Sport told The Times.

"However, we feel confident all due diligence was thoroughly covered and that the right candidate has been appointed,"

Newshub understands Great Britain Hockey approached Hager twice about the role, including after the Commonwealth Games, but he turned it down.

Hager's first game in charge of Great Britain will be on February 8 against the Black Sticks in Christchurch. The two teams will then square off in June in London.