Tana Umaga's contract extended as Leon MacDonald joins Blues coaching staff

Author
NZ Herald Staff,
Section
Rugby,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 16 May 2018, 2:19PM
Tana Umanga is the current Blues coach. (Photo/ Getty)
Tana Umanga is the current Blues coach. (Photo/ Getty)

Tana Umaga's reign in charge of the Blues will continue, with the franchise extending his contract to the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season.

This is Umaga's third season in charge, and the Blues have struggled in their 2018 campaign, winning just three of their 11 games to date.

They're also in the midst of a horror run against New Zealand opposition, having failed to beat a Kiwi side in their last 16 matches.

However, Blues CEO Michael Redman said while the Blues board is not satisfied with current performances, they don't believe firing Umaga is the answer.

"The board believes there are positive improvements taking place at all levels at the club, and that Tana still has a contribution to make," said Redman.

"Changing head coach now would mean we throw out three years of hard-earned experience and starting again which we believe is the wrong thing to do.

"At the same time, the expected shifts in on-field performance are yet to be achieved and we are examining every aspect of team selection, preparation and support as our fans would expect."

Umaga knows that the team's results need to improve quickly.

"We are in the results business. Believe me, no one at the Blues right now is happy with where we are at, but everyone has bought into our plan, believes in it and works so hard every day to perform," he said.

"There are significant parts of every game where we are achieving that, and just a few basic things that let us down and convert those tight games into positive results."

Umaga will have a new assistant coach to help him in that task, with former All Blacks fullback Leon MacDonald being confirmed as an addition to the Blues coaching staff.

Tasman head coach Leon MacDonald. Photosport
Tasman head coach Leon MacDonald. (Photosport)

"[McDonald] has a proven record as a player and as a coach at a high level and we believe his different experiences will help significantly in improved performances from next season," said Redman.

"I'm extremely motivated to help with the Blues' vision of being one of New Zealand's most successful Super Rugby teams. I have coached with Tana with the New Zealand Under 20 team and I have a great deal of respect for him as a head coach," said MacDonald.

McDonald will link up with the Blues after the Mitre 10 Cup season, where he will coach Tasman.

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