South Africa's men reached the last four at the Commonwealth Games and also won the inaugural Nations Cup in 2022 but have declined a place in the next FIH Men's Pro League ©Getty Images

Ireland are set to join the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Men’s Pro League for the 2023-2024 season after the South Africa Hockey Association (SAHA) declined an invitation to do so.

South Africa won the inaugural Men's FIH Nations Cup on home soil in Potchefstroom last December, which qualified them for promotion to the FIH Men's Pro League.

No reason was given for their decision to opt out, but an FIH statement insisted the decision had been made "after a thorough analysis," by the South Africans.

"SAHA is extremely saddened by the fact that they will not be attending the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023-2024 season," said SAHA interim chief executive Shaune Baaitjies.

"It will be sorely missed, especially as it would have assisted our team with their preparation for Paris 2024 and the magnificent progress in our team performance is a direct result of our participation in the previous Pro League season."

SAHA have vowed to return to the competition as soon as possible. 

FIH Nations Cup runners-up Ireland have accepted the invitation to take part instead.

Ireland have accepted an invitation to join the Men's Hockey Pro League for the 2023-2024 season ©Getty Images
Ireland have accepted an invitation to join the Men's Hockey Pro League for the 2023-2024 season ©Getty Images

"This announcement comes at a very exciting time for Hockey Ireland as we look to grow participation in the game and compete at the highest level on the international stage," said Hockey Ireland chief executive Ronan Murphy.

"The fact that our senior men are now competing in World Hockey's Pro League against eight top hockey teams from around the world is a testament to all the hard work to date."

The FIH Pro League serves as a qualification tournament for the Olympics and the FIH World Cup.

"It’s a massive challenge for us but I’ve said many times before, that for Ireland to move forward in world hockey, we need to be playing competitive games against the top nations," Ireland coach Mark Tumilty insisted.

"To have the chance now to play sixteen games against the top countries in the world gives us that opportunity to develop, it’s what we need and it’s a big carrot for the players."

Ireland is also set to host the second tier Euro Hockey Championships in Dublin from July 23.