Tana Umaga replaced as head coach of Auckland-based Blues

Paola Ditto
Novembre 17, 2018

Umaga's former All Blacks teammate Leon MacDonald will take over as head coach a year earlier than planned.

MacDonald has agreed to a three-year contract in the top job following a post-season review after Umaga failed to steer the Blues to the play-offs for a third successive time.

MacDonald's role at the Blues will be his first as a head coach in Super Rugby, although he has coached Tasman in New Zealand's provincial championship.

"I am highly motivated to help with the Blues' vision for success", said MacDonald.

"This opportunity has arisen and I am honoured to have been considered for the role".

"I've also talked to Tana and Tom and both of them are both hugely supportive and also very committed to our combined desire to continue to move this club forward". "I will give it my heart and soul", he said.

"This is arguably the most challenging of the Super Rugby teams and now the most challenging environment, at least in New Zealand".

"We have said previously that starting from scratch every time we are under pressure has not served the Blues well in the past".

They were the last-placed team in the New Zealand conference during Umaga's three years in charge.

"Tana has a tremendous amount to contribute on the grass and he has learned a lot about this team". That said, I want to publicly acknowledge everyone's willingness to embrace change, and for their commitment to our club.

Aki stood out for four years in the NPC side and was eventually called up the the Chiefs in Super Rugby, impressing in two seasons with the Hamilton side before Pat Lam knocked on his door and convinced him to move to Connacht. The 28-year-old Ireland worldwide has become a integral part of Joe Schmidt's team in the last 12 months, but things could have been a lot different had a certain All Black not bumped into him many years ago.

"I will be 100 per cent behind helping to implement some of the strategies that we have identified that are still works-in-progress".

Umaga said his passion lies with being the defence coach.

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