Hockey: Former Ireland coach Graham Shaw to steer Black Sticks women

Former Ireland hockey coach Graham Shaw will replace Mark Hager at the helm of the NZ Black Sticks women.

Last year, Shaw guided the Irish women to the World Cup final - the first Irish team of any code to achieve that distinction - where they lost 6-0 to the Netherlands, the defending champions.

The result saw Ireland leap from 16th to eighth in world rankings, two spots below the NZ women.

Shaw, 40, was subsequently named Irish Sports Manager of the Year, heading off Grand Slam-winning rugby coach Joe Schmidt.

"It was an honour to coach my country and I am very grateful for the opportunity," said the former 151-cap international player. "We have had some incredible times together that I will never forget."

He will replace Mark Hager, who resigned after 10 years in the Black Sticks role to take up the Great Britain and England head coaching position in January.

Hager was the subject of an investigation into team culture, after inadvertently sending players an email that criticsed their performance during that same World Cup tournament, where they failed to make the quarter-finals.    

Last month, that review confirmed 24 of the 33 players interviewed had "serious concerns" over the team environment under Hager and Hockey NZ apologised for its lack of action.

"It should never have got to this point, and the fact that it has is something Hockey NZ is deeply sorry for and unequivocally apologises to all those who have had a poor experience in the environment," said chairman Mark Bignell.

Shaw's appointment follows an extensive global search for a replacement.

"The past few months have been a challening period for the Black Sticks women," says Hockey NZ board member Shane Collins. "We wanted to find the best coach to build on the success of the programme towards our ultimate goal of medalling at the Tokyo Olympic Games."

Shaw will take over the team on May 1 and his first game in charge will be against the United States in Pennsylvania on June 1.

Current interim coach Sean Dancer will continue as assistant through the Tokyo Olympics. 


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