North Harbour rugby coach Steve Jackson has been appointed as assistant coach for the Blues for next year’s Investec Super Rugby Championship.
“Steve will fill the position of forwards coach and joins Alistair who is responsible for our defensive patterns and I will focus on our attack,” said Umaga.
Blues high performance manager Tony Hanks said Jackson was the standout among a group of high calibre candidates.
“We were impressed with the competence of a group of excellent candidates for the role, and also by both the quality of their presentations and clarity of the role,” Hanks said.
“Jackson stood out especially in the key areas that we were looking for. He has an excellent pedigree both as a player and a coach and he has been heavily involved in the Blues over the past three seasons.”
Jackson is unbeaten as coach of the Blues Development since 2014 and was Head Coach of the Blues 10s team that won the inaugural World Club Tens in Singapore. Jackson has worked closely with many of the young pathway players coming into the club.
He was a former New Zealand schools and New Zealand Maori representative originally from Auckland. He played for Tasman, Auckland, North Harbour and Southland where he captained the side before moving into coaching with success at club level in North Harbour and Nelson, becoming assistant coach at Tasman, assistant at Counties Manukau and last year becoming coach of North Harbour in the national provincial competition.
Jackson said he was excited at the opportunity of joining the Blues.
“To coach in Super Rugby is what I have been working towards. Clearly I have a real stake in rugby in the Blues region and this is where I want to coach as a first option,” Jackson said.
“I’ve worked closely inside the Blues organisation for over two years and think I have a clear understanding of the direction the club is moving and the tremendous work that has been done to make change in the organisation as a whole.
“I’ve enjoyed my time at North Harbour where I believe we are making real strides forward and at the same time I am excited and looking forward to the challenges at the Blues.”
North Harbour CEO Brett Hollister said while saddened to lose Jackson, he is pleased with his progression to the Blues.
“Steve has driven positive change in his time with us and there’s a real belief we are moving firmly in the right direction. There is a very strong desire within our Mitre 10 Cup group to finish this 2016 campaign, and Steve’s time with us, in a very positive manner,” Mr Hollister said.
“We always knew that Steve had the skillset to go further in coaching in this country and we are delighted that the Blues have chosen a coach from within the region. It’s important that we create not only a pathway for our players, but also for our coaches and support staff and this is an excellent appointment that we fully support.”
Mr Hollister said North Harbour will advertise for a replacement immediately.
Jackson will take up his position at the conclusion of the Mitre 10 Cup with the Blues to announce the Skills Coach next week and their full squad to be named at the end of October.