• Centre pairing excites Umaga

    Blues coach Tana Umaga is happy to have George Moala and Rene Ranger operating as a centre pair in 2016.

    Umaga has taken over the reins from John Kirwan as head coach, as the Blues look to put last year’s disappointing Vodacom Super Rugby campaign behind them.

    The pairing of Moala and Ranger is one combination that Umaga is eager to see turn out for the Auckland-based franchise this season. Both players have impressed on wing and in the midfield, but they’ve never played together as a midfield combination.

    ‘They both see themselves as midfielders. They're pretty good, too,’ Umaga said. ‘We realised they'll be a big package if we can get them on the field together. We've got outside backs that can complement them and work off what they can deliver.’

    But there is going to be a waiting period before Ranger is back on the field taking contact. He is back at training with the Blues, but is still recovering from neck surgery done in early 2015 which prevents him from taking contact.

    The Blues' Super Rugby season kicks off on 26 February against the Highlanders in Auckland.

    Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images