Hockey: Former Black Sticks coach Mark Hager eyes up old team with Great Britain

Now wearing the blue-and-white of Great Britain, former Black Sticks coach Mark Hager is trying to put the past behind him.

"It's been tough for me and my family," he told Newshub, as he prepared for his first game against his old team in a FIH Pro League clash in Christchurch on Friday.

In January, the 54-year-old Australian resigned as NZ women's coach, while a review was being held into his tenure and the wider team culture.

"I think it was a bit of an eye-opener and I've learnt a lot," he said. "I'll adjust some of the things that I do."  

Criticised by some as a "bully", Hager also had many former and current internationals backing his methods and coaching style.

The ordeal, he says, has taught him to be more adaptable. 

"When you have older players that like it one way and the new ones who like another, it's trying to mould it all together."

The review findings are due for release this month. Hager says he doesn't know what the findings are, but decided it was time for a fresh start and plans to move permanently to London next month.

Tomorrow, in Christchurch, he coaches the Olympic champions for the first time against a side he was in charge of for a decade and at two Olympics.

"I think it will be interesting to see how I am," said Hager. "I think I'll be a bit nervous at the start of the game.

"I only met the [British] girls last Saturday - that was the first time - and this is only the third session I've had with them."

Does he have any regrets about the move?

"Obviously, I don't get a chance to win an Olympic medal with the Kiwis," said Hager. "I got fourth twice and now I've got the daunting thing of having the Olympic champions."

While he waits on the result on the Hockey NZ review, of more immediate concern is a winning result against his former team.


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