New Zealand Rugby
Umaga handed Counties Manukau reins
ESPNscrum Staff
December 22, 2011
Counties Manakau assistant coach Tana Umaga looks on during their ITM Cup clash with Southland, Southland v Counties, ITM Cup, Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill, New Zealand, July 29, 2011
Tana Umaga has now moved into the head coach seat at Counties © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Tana Umaga

Former All Blacks legend Tana Umaga has taken the helm at ITM Cup side Counties Manukau.

Umaga replaces Milton Haig who has taken up the head honcho role with the Georgian national side. Umaga spent last season in a player/coach capacity with Counties while also appearing for the Chiefs in Super Rugby. But an ankle injury ended his season and he has now opted to leave his playing days behind him and move into coaching full-time.

And Umaga is relishing the chance to tap into the region's pool of players. "This is a region full of talent and I am looking forward to capturing that talent, enhancing and retaining it, while building on the good work with the players that we have already done," Umaga said. "Counties Manukau's riches are in its people, players, supporters, sponsors and fans. It is great to be a member of a team of people who are focused on fielding a successful team.

"Our players enjoy the environment and this is one of the reasons we are also experiencing interest in players from other Unions which is a nice change.We are trying to concentrate on developing players as a whole, in addition to the rugby aspect which I think is vital for players in the modern game."

Counties Manukau CEO Andrew Maddock said: "We are delighted with the appointment of Tana. He will continue the good work that has already been done within the Union. His experience, wealth of knowledge and coaching skills are greatly valued and we are looking forward to our players continuing to benefit from him."

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