Image: File Picture – Former New Zealand All Blacks team captain Tana Umaga smiles during a welcoming ceremony in Toulon October 28, 2006. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga’s rise through the coaching ranks continued on Wednesday with his appointment as an assistant coach of the Maori All Blacks for their end of season tour.
The 43-year-old Umaga will join coach Colin Cooper for the tour, which includes an international against the United States in Chicago on Nov. 4 before they face Irish side Munster on Nov. 11 and then English club Harlequins on Nov. 16.
Former All Blacks prop Carl Hoeft has also joined Cooper as assistant forwards coach.
“I’m delighted to have Tana and Carl join us,” Cooper said in a statement. “Their mix of specific coaching skills and insight as former players adds huge value to the work we are doing around this team.
“Tana brings a certain mana to our team — he understands the professional rugby environment well and brings a strong high performance approach to his work.”
Umaga, who captained the All Blacks 21 times in 2004-05 before he quit test rugby after 74 caps, moved to France where he played for, then coached, Toulon.
He returned to New Zealand as an assistant coach at provincial side Counties Manukau in 2010.
The former All Blacks centre took over as head coach at Counties in 2012 before he was appointed coach of Super Rugby’s Auckland Blues last year.
The Blues, who have struggled in recent years, showed signs of resurgence under Umaga in 2016, winning eight of their 15 games, though they still finished last in the highly competitive New Zealand conference.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)
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