Hockey New Zealand has kept one coach and lost another, with Colin Batch stepping down as men's coach on the same day Mark Hager re-signed as women's coach.

Batch would step down, effective immediately.

Hockey New Zealand high performance director Terry Evans said that being away from his family in Australia for eight years was the main reason for Batch returning home.

"Colin has developed an international programme that will lead to success in to the future, making the role of head coach of the Black Sticks men one that we know will be sought after by coaches locally and around the world."


Batch led the Black Sticks for the past four years, following the London 2012 Olympics.

Prior to that he was head coach of the Belgium men for two years, and was assistant coach of the Australian men for eight years. He also played 175 internationals for Australia.

Batch oversaw a major culture shift during his time as coach and achieved a silver medal finish at the 2014 World League final, fourth at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and gold at the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

This year his side secured bronze medals at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and Six Nations in Valencia.

Hockey New Zealand will be recruiting a new head coach shortly.

In contrast, Hager has fended off approaches from other countries to sign a contract extension that will see him lead the side through to a third Olympic Games in 2020.

Hager first took over the reins of the women's side in 2009 and led them to back-to-back fourth placings at the previous two Olympic campaigns.

The Hockey Australia Hall of Fame inductee said it wasn't a difficult decision to extend his stay.


"My family is very happy in New Zealand," Hager said. "They love it here so we were very keen to stay.

"A lot of me sees so much unfinished business with the Olympics. To come fourth twice is pretty gut-wrenching so I would like an opportunity to rectify that and try and win a medal in four years' time."

Colin Batch.
Colin Batch.

While the hurt of missing an Olympic medal is driving Hager to continue, there are some players who will step away from the international scene.

"I am still having a chat to players about next year and their commitment," Hager said. "I think we have a very good core group.

"At this stage there are five that I know about from our group of 25 that might not be back.

"Obviously Kayla Whitelock is one of those and Emily Naylor, who have retired.

"I think this group has some huge potential. We have got some really good youth coming through."

Evans said it was fantastic to secure the world-class coach, who has been in demand from other nations.

"We know Mark has fielded offers from other countries, so we're pleased to be able to confirm that he will lead the Black Sticks women through to Tokyo," he said.

Since taking over as coach Hager has progressed his side from a world ranking of 12th to their current spot at fifth.

He has guided the women to victory at the 2009 Champions Challenge, silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, bronze at the 2011 Champions Trophy, bronze at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, runners-up at December's World League Final and, this year, gold medal finishes at the Hawke's Bay Cup and International Hockey Open in Darwin, along with the Olympic fourth placing.