Tana Umaga named Blues new head coach

Former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga is bracing for a challenge after replacing Sir John Kirwan as head coach of the Blues.

Umaga has signed a three-year deal with the struggling Super Rugby franchise following the resignation last week of Kirwan, who guided the Blues to 16 wins from 48 games in a three-year term.

It was widely expected that 42-year-old Umaga would take the reins, having coached previously at French club Toulon and enjoying success in three seasons as head coach of Kiwi domestic team Counties Manukau.

“I am excited at the opportunity and of course understand there’s a big challenge ahead for us all,” he said.

“There’s no quick fix to turn things around. It is going to take a lot of very hard work which will be my focus. I want to let our performances on the field do the talking.”

Blues chairman Tony Carter said the board of the Blues agreed unanimously that Umaga was the right man for the job following “unsatisfactory” results in the 2015 season, when they finished 14th with three wins.

Umaga will take up his position fulltime when his duties with Counties Manukau finish later this year.

He confirmed Glen Moore will remain as an assistant coach at the Blues and up to two other assistant roles are yet to be filled.

Umaga was All Blacks captain for two years following their 2003 World Cup failure.

He led the team in 21 of his 74 Tests as a winger or midfield back, scoring 36 tries.

He played 122 matches for the Hurricanes and 100 for Wellington, before taking on a player/coach role at Toulon in 2008.

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