GB coach Mark Hager has 'learned' from NZ review

Mark Hager
Mark Hager made 231 appearances for Australia in an 11-year playing career

New Great Britain women's hockey coach Mark Hager says he has learned from the independent review carried out into his reign as New Zealand coach.

The Australian was not openly criticised in the review although several players described a "negative environment" within the Black Sticks squad.

"The biggest thing I learned was that young kids change and as a coach I need to adapt to that - and I probably didn't adapt quick enough," Hager told BBC Sport.

"It was an experience I didn't enjoy, nor my family, but I think it has helped me a lot going through it."

Hager's appointment as Danny Kerry's replacement in January caused a stir when details emerged around the review into the team culture during his tenure as New Zealand coach.

The 54-year-old left his position with the Commonwealth champions after 10 years, prior to the conclusion of the six-month long review.

In February, New Zealand Hockey issued an apology to players and staff who had endured "a poor experience".

"Nothing came out of it in the end for me - which was very good for me," said Hager.

"It was a case of same-same after 10 years and the players needed a new challenge - that was the biggest message for me.

"When I started playing and coaching it was a case of 'this is how we do it' but now it's a more collaborative approach and the players giving their feedback and giving their decisions."

GB Hockey said in January that they, in conjunction with UK Sport, had conducted due diligence and were satisfied Hager was the right man for the job.

The Australian has only recently moved permanently to the country and will take charge of his first home game on Saturday at Lee Valley, when the United States visit on Pro League business.

GB have so far won just one of their six matches to date in the competition - all of them on the road.

Mark Hager
Hager has also coached in the Hockey India League

"We've had some tough opponents and we're at the very start of a rebuilding phase," said Hollie Pearne-Webb, who scored the decisive penalty to win the Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016.

"We've got a new coach so we're really looking forward to developing as a team with him.

"Naturally we looked into [the New Zealand review] but as players we weren't concerned about it because we knew the proper due diligence checks had been done.

"He seems friendly and welcoming but he also knows what he wants and what we need to deliver.

"So I think he's going to be exactly the right fit for what we need for this group."

Saturday's match in London is the first of four home games in succession for GB women.

"It's huge, we are really looking forward to making the most of home advantage," said Pearne-Webb.

"Games on the road have been a massive learning curve but we're feeling really optimistic about these home games and the support from the home crowd always pushes us on."

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