Former Kiwi international Darren Smith has been named the new head coach of the Vantage Black Sticks Men.

Smith, who played 212 tests for New Zealand from 1995 - 2006, takes over the top role following the departure of Colin Batch in December.

He was assistant coach of the Black Sticks Men from 2007 - 2012 before leading the Ireland Womens programme as head coach from 2012 - 2015.

Smith is excited to take on the head coach role which has been a personal dream for a long time, moving on from his most recent role as High Performance Director at Softball New Zealand.

"Im absolutely thrilled to be appointed head coach of the Vantage Black Sticks Men, its been something Ive thought about for 20 odd years and a lot of my life choices have been moulded towards one day being in this role," he said.

"The Blacks Sticks programme is something Im hugely passionate about and I think its in great shape with plenty of potential to do even better.

"Hockey is on a high all around the world at the moment and to have both our Black Sticks teams ranked in the worlds top eight is a huge achievement.

"Im really looking forward to getting in and spending time with the players, getting a depth of knowledge within the programme and getting started on the pitch.

"Ive thoroughly enjoyed my time at Softball New Zealand, its been a role alongside great people that has allowed me to grow and develop into a position where I feel prepared to take charge of the Black Sticks Men and help them win on the world stage."

Smith officially begins his role as head coach of the Vantage Black Sticks Men next week as he transitions into another big year for the programme.

The Black Sticks Mens biggest focus this year is the FIH World League Semi Final in Johannesburg from 9-23 July which serves as a dual qualification event for the World League Final as well as the 2018 Hockey World Cup.

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Hockey NZ