Former South African international Craig Fulton has been announced as the new Ireland men’s hockey coach.

Fulton, who has coached in Ireland both at a club level and as assistant national coach to the men’s team from 2006–2009, will commence his role in April before leading the side to Malaysia for the Champions Challenge 1 competition  at  the end of the month.

He succeeds Andrew Meredith who departed the role as senior men’s coach in December 2013; assistant coach Mick McKinnon and Irish under-21 men’s coach Jonny Caren had taken over the side on an interim basis since then.

Fulton, who competed for South Africa at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics, said: "I am delighted to be given this opportunity to coach the Irish national men's team. I have always reflected fondly on my previous coaching experiences in Ireland with club and country.

"I look forward to working with this talented Irish team with the sole focus of qualifying the team for Rio 2016."

Mike Heskin, Irish Hockey Chief Executive, said of Fulton’s appointment: "I am delighted with our new appointment. Craig brings to this team invaluable Olympic experience as a player and World Cup experience as a coach.

"He has recently served as assistant coach to the South African men’s team and has previously served as assistant coach to Ireland for over 90 tests.

"His experience in Ireland provides him with an in-depth knowledge of both the Irish team and Irish hockey and will help him to hit the ground running when he arrives in April.

"This will prove invaluable in our preparation for the Olympic qualification process which begins in the spring of 2015 with World League 2 in the USA."