All Blacks legend Tana Umaga has stepped down from his role as Blues assistant coach to focus on his new family business.
Umaga, who has played an integral role in the Blues coaching staff since 2016, said it had been a difficult decision to leave the club after initially signing a multi-year contract extension with New Zealand Rugby (NZR).
After three seasons as defence coach under Leon MacDonald, the former All Blacks captain said he wanted to put his family first.
“I’ve absolutely loved my time at the Blues, but ultimately my family comes first and, with that in mind, I have decided to put my time and energy into growing our business alongside my wife Rochelle,” Umaga said.
He’s keeping his options open, though.
“We are excited about what the future holds for our business, and although I’m stepping away from rugby, I know the door isn’t closed and who knows what the future holds.”
MacDonald said Umaga was an “outstanding” defensive coach.
“Tana has developed into a mentor for so many of our players and his leadership into the development of our identity and our culture has been inspirational.
“His influence throughout our club, on and off the grass, has been crucial to where we are today and I am sure we would love to see him return in the future.”
Blues CEO Andrew Hore said Umaga would be “sorely missed”.
“His influence on the club and the team has been significant. He has excelled in his current role of defence and has been an integral part in developing and driving the culture within the team and our club,” Hore said.
“We had hoped he would continue in the role for the next couple of seasons, but we respect his decision and why he has a desire to try something new.
“We wish him, and Rochelle, all the best. Our door will always be open for Tana and his family.”
Umaga was head coach of the Blues in 2016, before transitioning to defence coach in 2018 when MacDonald, former Crusaders assistant coach, was appointed.
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