Hockey: Search on for Black Sticks' next coach

By Terry Maddaford

Departing men's Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod. Photo / AP.
Departing men's Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod. Photo / AP.

Hockey New Zealand is moving quickly to fill the gap left by departing men's Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod.

McLeod, contracted until the end of the year, had always made it clear he would not be reapplying for the job.

Hockey NZ chief executive Hilary Poole said on her return from London that the national body would embark on an "open and transparent process" in their search for McLeod's replacement.

"Our aim is to make the appointment by the end of September," said Poole.

"We are confident of attracting top candidates by a combination of advertising and a search by an outside consultancy. [High performance manager] Toni Cumpston will have a role to play in this as well.

"The international hockey community is relatively small but New Zealand continues to be recognised as a force in world hockey and we are confident of finding the right person to take us through the next four years."

While Hockey NZ remain keen to host further international tournaments on the back of their successful staging of last year's Champions Trophy, Poole said much would depend on the allocation of venues for the upcoming international Hockey League.

"Any tournament here would be beyond 2015 as the next Champions Trophy tournaments for men and women have been allocated as has the 2014 World Cup which will be played - for men and women - in Holland.

"The bid documents for 2018 are not yet out but our feeling is that a combined tournament (24 teams) - if that is what the FIH [International Hockey Federation] want - would be too big for us. But the FIH are absolutely supportive of what we have done and achieved."

National women's coach Mark Hager sees 2014 as a big year for the New Zealand teams.

"In the space of just five months there will be the Champions Trophy in India, the World Cup and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games," said Hager. "We will start building towards that later in the year.

"I can understand that a number of players wanted a break after the Olympics and certainly there was, unlike last year, no pressure on the players to return for the NHL.

"Our next major event will be the new World Series in which we will join at the quarter-final stage next June at a venue yet to be determined. Ideally we would like to host a four or six team tournament in February-March to prepare for that.

"Even if the top players are missing from the NHL we will be taking a close look as we plan to name a new national squad after the league."

Encouragingly, none of the Olympic squad have yet indicted they plan to retire and while Hager welcomes the likelihood of a settled squad, he is keen to give other players a chance with the attack the centre of his attention.

- NZ Herald

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