Interesting sideline for NZ's women's team

Mark Hager.
Mark Hager.
The focus will be off the field just as much as on it when the next round of the FHI Pro League is played in Christchurch tonight.

Great Britain is the opponent for both Black Sticks teams and, for the women, it will be a chance to go up against former coach Mark Hager, who is now coaching Britain.

Hager was in charge of the Black Sticks for 10 years, taking the team to gold at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast last year.

But a few months after that victory a review was started into Hager's coaching and the team environment after Hager sent an email to all team members which was only supposed to go to other members of the coaching team. The review has yet to be released publicly but it will be an interesting sideline.

Hager was well respected by players but was a hard-as-nails coach who spared no-one. He has been replaced by Sean Dancer.

The Black Sticks women's side has started the Pro League with two narrow defeats.

The side lost 1-0 to the Netherlands on January 27 and also went down by the same score to Belgium a week ago.

Finishing well is the key for the side as youngsters Alia Jaques and Shiloh Gloyn come back into the side.

The last time these two sides met was the semifinal at the Commonwealth Games when New Zealand won a penalty shootout win against England, which provides the bulk of the Great Britain side.

The Black Sticks men lost 4-3 to the Netherlands and then drew 4-4 with Belgium although lost the penalty shoot-out.

England, which makes up most of the Great Britain team, beat New Zealand 2-0 at the World Cup in India late last year.

The Black Sticks have been playing an aggressive style and Southern player Hugo Inglis has been good up front, scoring three goals and setting up other opportunities to be the leading goal-scorer in the Pro League.

Midfielder Nic Woods (23), who will line up for his 100th test, has established himself as one of the most reliable and exciting midfielders in international hockey.

The men play at 5.40pm, followed by the women at 7.40pm.

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