Umaga to help coach Maori All Blacks

by AFP

New Zealand great Tana Umaga aims to further burnish his coaching credentials by serving as an assistant on the Maori All Blacks' tour in November, New Zealand Rugby said Wednesday.

Umaga took over the Auckland Blues this year, transforming them from Super Rugby whipping boys into a competitive unit.

He has spoken publicly about his dream of one day coaching the All Blacks but acknowledged he must first serve a long apprenticeship, which has so far included stints in charge of Toulon and Counties Manukau.

Umaga will have his first taste of coaching at representative level when the Maori All Blacks tour the United States, Ireland and Britain in November.

Umaga is currently head coach of the Auckland Blues. Photo: Getty Images

He will work with head coach Colin Cooper and fellow assistant Carl Hoeft.

"Tana brings a certain mana (prestige) to our team," Cooper said.

"He understands the professional rugby environment well and brings a strong high performance approach to his work."

The Maori All Blacks are made up of players from New Zealand's indigenous Maori people.

They will play the United States in Chicago on November 4, Munster in Limerick on November 11, and Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop on November 16.

Umaga played 74 Tests, including 21 as captain, leading the All Blacks in 2005 to a Grand Slam victory and a clean sweep of the British and Irish Lions.