TODAY |

'He never did anything I questioned' - Black Sticks women's captain defends outgoing coach Mark Hager

Black Sticks women's captain Stacey Michelsen say that she's saddened by the departure of long time coach Mark Hager, after it was announced this morning that he'll take over as the coach of England and Great Britain.

Hager, 54, leaves his post with the Black Sticks women after 10 years with the New Zealand side, taking them as high as the third ranked side in the world, as well as winning a Commonwealth Games gold medal on the Gold Coast last year though.

However, Hager's departure comes in somewhat controversial circumstances, with the imminent release of a review into the Black Sticks women's culture, with allegations of bullying and junior players being treated unfairly under his tutelage.

Speaking to 1 NEWS today though, both Michelsen and Charlton denied any wrongdoing on Hager's part.

It follows claims made against Black Sticks coach Mark Hager. Source: 1 NEWS

"He was definitely someone who challenged us, and we challenged him at times," Michelsen says.

"We challenged him at times, we definitely had an approach where we collaborated on things.

"Things aren't always easy in this environment, but he never did anything that I questioned, that he shouldn't be doing, or pushed us in a way that we shouldn't have been pushed."

Mark Hager created a rift with his players and New Zealand Hockey after mistakenly sending a critical email to his team during the World Cup last month. Source: 1 NEWS

While Hager's impact on the team off the field may be questionable though, there is no doubt that his legacy on the pitch will go down as one of the most successful in New Zealand's hockey history.

"He's allowed us to go from a ninth ranked team in the world up to third when we're at our best," Michelsen continued.

"We've had so many firsts for the Black Sticks women under him. I'll be sad to no longer have him as our coach, but I understand his decision to move on."

Hager's departure sees current assistant Sean Dancer take on the role of acting head coach, with the Black Sticks women preparing for the FIH Pro League, beginning later this month.

Stacey Michelsen and Sam Charlton say that Hager has been unfairly treated. Source: 1 NEWS