Blues coach Tana Umaga is relishing the prospect of working with the Maori All Blacks after being appointed as an assistant coach for their end-of-year tour.
Iconic former All Black Umaga, who earned 74 caps for New Zealand during his illustrious playing career, will provide support to head coach Colin Cooper, his former boss at the Hurricanes.
"It's a great opportunity for me to get back with Colin again and also evolve as a coach. That's what I'm looking forward to," said Umaga.
"I like that expansive game [the Maori All Blacks are renowned for]. Obviously my brief there is around the back play and attack so I want to make sure that we're keeping true to the values of Maori rugby but also trying to add to it. To upskill the players as much as we can in the short, limited time that we have and that they enjoy it.
"With my own Samoan background, the cultures are very similar and I know, having been around a lot of the Maori culture in my upbringing, how important it is and the respect it deserves. I'm really excited about the opportunity."
Cooper welcomed the appointments of Umaga and Waikato forwards coach Carl Hoeft, another ex-international who will also serve as an assistant.
"I'm delighted to have Tana and Carl join us," said Cooper. "Their mix of specific coaching skills and insight as former players adds huge value to the work we are doing around this team.
"The Maori All Blacks is a special team and it's important that we can access great high performance coaching skills."