Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Mark Hager defends coaching abilities after GB hockey appointment

Great Britain women’s coach Mark Hager has spoken for the first time since taking charge of his opening game in his new role with the Olympic champions.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Hager defended his coaching methods and said there had been “no issues” from a GB Hockey perspective of him taking charge while an independent review was still ongoing.

He spoke candidly of the negative media headlines which had engulfed him and his family since reports came to light of a toxic environment within the Kiwi squad.

“I’ve never experienced the media scrutinisng me as an individual or even the programme,” he told The Telegraph in an interview.

“I now know what it’s like for someone like [rugby coaches] Steve Hansen or Eddie Jones or professional football coaches who get scrutinised every day. It was a learning experience, especially for my family.

“You will get criticism in professional sport but I’m confident of my coaching abilities and how I talked to players and staff. Now it’s a matter of getting GB prepared.”

Hager, the 54-year-old Australian, said he could take GB to new heights – both physically and in a change of tactics (with defending still at the heart) – as they aim to defend their Olympic title at Tokyo 2020.

New Zealand won Commonwealth hockey gold in 2018 PIC: Hockey NZ

He said: “If you look back at Rio, their stats success was way ahead of every other team. That is a real plus.”

Hager, who will move full-time to the UK in early March, also admitted that England and GB had stilted on the world scene after Rio gold and aimed to instill some new life in the coming months.

He said: “Sometimes you go through a plateau that doesn’t work for you. I’m hoping to bring that back and adapt differently.”

Hager and Great Britain are currently in Perth preparing for their second FIH Pro League match, a crunch encounter against Australia on Saturday.

The men are also in action against the Kookaburras in what is set to be a lively double header.


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