Isa Nacewa returning to Blues in coaching role

Isa Nacewa is returning to the Blues for an off-field role in Super Rugby.

The Fijian star who played four seasons with the Blues and won three NPC titles with Auckland before carving out a successful career with Irish club Leinster, has been named mental skills coach.

The Blues have also named local identity Richard Fry as their new manager of rugby.

Blues CEO Michael Redman confirmed the appointments today.

"We're really pleased to appoint people who have the key requisite skills and experience to fulfil the roles but also have such strong links to the Blues region," Redman said.

"Heritage and identity are important elements of the Blues environment going forward and both Richard and Isa bring a deep understanding of the region, its history and culture as well as bringing highly relevant international experience to the organisation."

After a decade-long professional career capped by Heineken Cup success at Leinster, the 31-year-old Nacewa believes he has the necessary experience to pass on.

"My role involves getting the players' mental space right going into trainings and games and upskilling them on the discipline and attributes needed to be winners, not just talented players," said Nacewa, who was named 2008 Blues player of the year and 2011 Leinster player of the year.

"Coming from being a player myself, I've sat in their seats and experienced first hand everything they're going through, so if I can take my experience and relay it back to the players to help them improve then that's the role working.

"I discovered mental preparation and training in 2007 and probably didn't implement it properly until 2011, and then we won four trophies in the last three years alone so I believe it's an incredibly important aspect of the game."

Fry has a vast knowledge of both the playing and commercial sides of rugby.

A member of the Barbarians, Fry played first-class rugby for Auckland, Counties Manukau and North Harbour as well as the New Zealand Sevens team before heading overseas for a number of seasons in France and Italy.

Following his playing career, Fry began working in the sponsorship environment for Lion Breweries which led him to become involved in John Hart's All Blacks management team from 1996-99.

"This is my patch and, like a lot of fans and the public, last season I saw a real turnaround in attitude from the Blues and I want to be a part of it," Fry said.

"The challenges are many and varied but I want to do the most I can to help the Blues be successful. As I've seen in the short period of time I've been exposed to the organisation, I believe the franchise is moving in the right direction.

"They've got good people on board, good systems in place, there's a continuous-improvement ethic and I think it's much needed for the region. There's a real desire to do well so I've bought into that and I'm excited about the challenges that lie ahead."

Fairfax Media