23 Jun 2015

Umaga was set to coach Blues with Kirwan

1:31 pm on 23 June 2015

The newly appointed Blues coach, former All Black captain Tana Umaga, says he was prepared to work with former coach Sir John Kirwan.

Umaga has been appointed the new head coach of the side for the next three years, after Kirwan announced last week he was resigning following three unsuccessful years in the role.

Umaga, who has been coaching the Counties-Manukau provincial side, says he had initial discussions with Blues management earlier this year but they only became serious a month ago.

"I was prepared to work with Sir J.K," he said.

" I only found out on the morning that he decided to make his decision (to resign) and I was then offered the head coaching job which changed things around a bit so we had to make some amendments to things but I was prepared to come on board with Sir J.K. I'd like to put that out there,"

Tana Umaga says the Blues should be New Zealand's strongest Super rugby franchise.

Tana Umaga says the Blues should be New Zealand's strongest Super rugby franchise. Photo: Photosport

Umaga says he wasn't put off taking up the coaching reins at the Blues despite their poor form over the past few years under both Kirwan and his predecessor Pat Lam.

"The challenge excites me. This what we wake up in the morning for," he said.

"I'm big believer in karma and I think it was just something that came about. It was good timing for me. I've toiled away (coaching) in the ITM Cup and overseas, so Super Rugby was obviously the next step and it's just all come together for me. I needed a new challenge and obviously it will be a challenge here but I'm looking forward to that."

Umaga said "being a part of this community I've been seeing what's happening...when I was growing up the Blues were the team you always wanted to beat so I always thought the Blues should be the strongest. We have a great base here in terms of players holding onto that is probably one of the biggest challenges for us. Hopefull we can rectify that and keep the ones that we want."