Dragflick Newsdesk : Hockey New Zealand (HNZ) is proud to announce that former Olympian, Greg Nicol, has signed on as the new head coach of the Vantage Black Sticks Men (VBSM).
Nicol is no stranger to the VBSM and wider HNZ programme having served as assistant coach for the VBSM at the Beijing Olympics, and then at the Rio Olympics in 2016. He was also an assistant coach for the VBS Women at the London Olympics in 2012.
In 2017 Nicol took on the challenge of a newly created role as the Athlete Pathway Manager. In this role he was successful in laying the foundations for a national talent development system for hockey in New Zealand for which HNZ are now reaping the benefits.
Nicol left this position to pursue other opportunities in 2019. In addition to his massive contribution to hockey in NZ, Nicol also played hockey at the highest level for South Africa – representing them at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics while amassing 200 caps and scoring a record 244 goals.
General Manager – High Performance, Darren Smith says
“After an extensive recruitment process we feel that Greg’s strengths can bring this team to the next level. He is a direct and attack minded coach who has a clear and concise vision on how the team will play.
Greg is a highly valued coach who was able to have a significant impact on the players through the Rio Olympic campaign. I am also personally looking forward to working with Greg again after being in Beijing together and working closely with him as the Athlete Pathway Manager.”
For Nicol the opportunity to return to the VBSM programme was too hard to resist, commenting, “with a Commonwealth Games next year, and a World Cup the year after, it’s an exciting time to take on this opportunity to lead our men through this next phase.
“I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and building on the strong foundations that have been laid by Darren and the wider coaching staff. There is great work going on behind the scenes to make our high- performance programme the best it can be – HNZ has a clear vision and support structure to make this happen. Plus, I’m excited to see some familiar faces back in training.”
Nicol will officially start the role at the beginning of February with selection camps taking place in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.