Role reversal: Blues coaches Tana Umaga and Leon MacDonald come to terms with switch

The Blues have decided that the best way forward is for coach Tana Umaga to take a step back.

The franchise has made an extraordinary decision to flip their coaching roles, with Umaga now an assistant in charge of defense, while Leon MacDonald's been promoted to the top job.

The restructure is the result of a review into another season of failure, with all parties agreeing the move was the best way forward.

Five months ago, Umaga and MacDonald were all smiles when unveiled as the coaches to bring the Blues back to life. Now, they find their roles reversed.

"I suppose I'm one of the lucky ones to be sticking around and still be part of this environment," said Umaga. "Sometimes it can be really ruthless."

Both Umaga and the Blues board are adamant he wasn't sacked, it simply decided that that best way for him to help the team's resurgence is as an assistant.

The unexpected switch has forced a complete change in mindset for MacDonald.

"It's significant yeah," said MacDonald. "It tips it on its head completely."

The new head coach acknowledges the unique situation they've found themselves in.

'It's probably never happened before where the head coach has stayed on. Just speaking to Tana, he's got a lot of learnings that he's had over the last few years which are going to be critical for us."

The Blues and NZ Rugby have long thought Umaga's systems showed potential, but it's clear they're better utilised with him taking a step back rather than a step out.

"The process of starting again everytime the blues were under pressure was not a strategy that had worked in the past."

While the timing of the reshuffle hasn't been ideal, the new defense coach is just relieved he wasn't shown the door.

"This is the best way forward for us as a club, for the players to get what they need."

The Blues new number two is hoping to get them back to number one.


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