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Tana Umaga won't rule out Moana Pasifika job but says he is 'happy at the Blues'
00:39 am GMT+12, 25/11/2020, New Zealand

All Blacks great Tana Umaga knows the coaching industry is an unpredictable industry but has declared his contentment with life at the Blues despite the likelihood of Moana Pasifika gaining admittance into Super Rugby in 2022.
 
Umaga will coach Moana Pasifika in their one-off clash against NZ Māori in Hamilton on December 5, after signing a one-year contract extension with the Blues earlier this year.
 
That suggested Umaga could put his hand up for the Moana Pasifika role when they enter Super Rugby in 2022, but Umaga told Stuff he still had unfinished business at the Blues.
 
“With this coaching gig nothing is ever taken for granted,” Umaga said.
 
“You go from contact to contract. It will definitely be something to be part of, but I have to say that I’m very happy with where I am at the Blues.
 
“We're just starting to see the fruits of some hard labour from the players and some hard-working people at the club that have stuck with it.
 
“Our boys are maturing and you can see now that we're creating some All Blacks and we've got a great coaching staff here.
 
“I don't look too far ahead, and I'm actually happy where I am. And I know that with this kind of opportunity [at Moana Pasifika] in 2022, there’s going to be some great coaches that will put their hands up.
 
“I know it will be in good hands. [But] if it's there and the timing is good you never know what will happen.”
 
Umaga has been a big part of the Blues' gradual renaissance over the past five years.
 
Although Leon MacDonald is now the head coach, Umaga helped lay down the foundations and can clearly see the progress that is being made in Auckland.
 
During Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Blues looked like they could threaten the Crusaders’ dominance and it is clear that Scott Robertson's side will have a large target on their backs in 2021.
 
“Don't worry, there's four other clubs that are working their arses off to do that [beat the Crusaders] and we're up there too," Umaga said.
 
“We'd like to try and take it another step forward and get to the final next year.”
 
In the near-term, Umaga will turn his mind to the powerful Moana Pasifika squad he as assembled to face NZ Māori.
 
Umaga says it was a hard squad to pick as so many players wanted to be part of it.
 
For those who had already committed to playing for Pacific Islands nations, such as Nasi Manu (Tonga) it was another golden chance to represent Pasifika rugby.
 
But for others, such as uncapped New Zealand-born players with Pasifika roots, there were proud and emotional chats with parents about acknowledging their heritage.
 
Several players in the Moana Pasifika squad also have genuine chances of playing for the All Blacks in the future, following in the footsteps of Sitiveni Sivavatu and Sione Lauaki, who played for a Pacfic Islands XV in 2004 before they became All Blacks.
 
“We have got a few young guys wo are knocking on that All Blacks door, so there's still that opportunity," Umaga said.
 
“For us they were just players that you couldn't leave out.
 
“Marino [Mikaele-Tu’u], Folau Fakatava, Sione Mafileo in terms of what he has done with that North Harbour pack, Leicester Fainga'anuku...young men who still have [All Blacks} aspirations I'm sure.
 
“And yet from our point of view they were some of the form players in the competition.
 
“I had to play against Sitiveni and Sione before they became All Blacks and they made it hard work for us on that night and I remember that clearly.”..

SOURCE: STUFF NZ/PACNEWS


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