New Zealand hockey have lost another coach, with Black Sticks women's assistant coach Sean Dancer leaving to coach the Ireland women's national team.

Dancer, who has been with the Black Sticks women since 2009, acting as assistant coach since 2013, helped the side to a record high sixth in hockey's world rankings, as well gold at last year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Dancer's departure comes after head coach Mark Hager quit in January. Hager's departure was followed by a review into the Black Sticks women's team, that found a negative environment.

In a media release, Dancer spoke of his feelings in leaving an organisation he's been part of for over a decade.


"I would like to thank the players for all their efforts," Dancer said. "Hockey New Zealand for the opportunities, the staff for their hard work and my family and friends for all their support, that has made this last 10 years an unforgettable period of my coaching career and life.

Rose Keddell of the Black Sticks Women in the FIH Pro League. Photo / Photosport
Rose Keddell of the Black Sticks Women in the FIH Pro League. Photo / Photosport

"Apart from developing some great NZ friendships, I have also had the opportunity to coach with and learn from some of the world's best coaches in Mark Hager and Shane McLeod.

"To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the world stage, is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time ... and look forward to the opportunity to continue and add to the team's world-class performances over the last 12 months".

Hockey New Zealand's High-Performance Director, Paul MacKinnon, said Sean's input had been outstanding.

"Overall [Sean] has been outstanding, from 2013 to 2018 as Assistant Coach where the achievements have included Commonwealth Games Gold and Bronze Medals, World League Silver and Bronze Medals and a 4thplace at the 2016 Rio Olympics," MacKinnon said.

"Sean has taken on the Interim Head Coach role since early January with the high level of commitment, energy and leadership that this has required, to guide the team into the new FIH Pro League Competition, which he has achieved seamlessly.

"His level of coaching knowledge, expertise and contribution to the National Women's programme will be missed by all, however, the exciting opportunity of the Head Coach role for the Irish Women's Team in front of Sean, is one that we congratulate him on and wish him all the very best for."