As news emerges that Mark Hammett will stand down from the Hurricanes at the end of the season, former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga has re-signed with Counties Manukau until 2016.
Umaga, head coach of the Ranfurly Shield holders, was thought to be a front-runner to replace Hammett, but having re-committed to the South Auckland province he has effectively ruled himself out of contention.
"There is still a lot I want to achieve at this union," Umaga said in a statement today. "I thoroughly enjoy the environment, the people and the culture we have at Counties.
"Counties Manukau is well known for the talent pool it produces and I take great pride in the challenge of developing young players so they can go on to higher honours.
"There is still a lot I want to achieve at this union and the region. What it stands for and the challenges it faces suit who I am. We are quite a dynamic union that bats well above our weight with high passion and enthusiasm levels that are hugely motivating.
"There are a lot of talented young people in our diverse area and very rarely does success come easy for anyone. Therefore we take it upon ourselves to try and show upcoming talent that you can achieve, regardless of where you come from.
"I also believe that there is no substitute for hard work, a strong work ethic and good decision making, but know that it is equally important to have people who are willing to get behind you to support your endeavours as you strive to achieve goals, especially at a young age.
"We do a lot of work at the younger levels which is hugely satisfying as we try to build our base at school levels and we will always do what's right for our players and our people in our aim to provide more positive opportunities for the youth of South Auckland.
"Another big factor in my decision to stay at Counties Manukau was my family. They have settled in really well and it is the first time that I have had all my children under the same roof for nearly seven years so that is something my wife and I are really enjoying."
Counties Manukau chief executive Andrew Maddock is pleased to have retained the services of the highly-regarded coach.
"Tana is hugely respected by our players and our supporters. He has the ability to get the best out of the players and those around him," Maddock said.
"It also offers us continuity and allows Tana to keep building on the good work he has already done."
- Fairfax Media
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