Former All Blacks flanker Liam Barry has been named coach of underperforming rugby union North Harbour for next year's national provincial championship.

Barry fills the role after the union sacked two other former All Blacks - Craig Dowd and Jeff Wilson - following two disappointing seasons.

However, Wilson has been reappointed as Barry's assistant while the same management staff from 2010 will remain for next season.

Barry, 39, has been involved with the Blues franchise on an assistant basis since 2006 and will continue as their assistant coach until the conclusion of next year's Super 15,

He then will take charge of a North Harbour team who will contest the second-tier "Championship" division next year. After placing 11th of 14 teams this year, they will contest the division comprising the seven bottom sides.

North Harbour CEO Brett Hollister said a high calibre of applicants made the decision difficult but Barry had impressed in the interview process.

"Liam's strong leadership skills, coaching experience and long-time affiliation with the region stood out for the interview panel amongst a high quality field of applicants," Hollister said.

Barry has a strong link with the province, having debuted for North Harbour as a 20-year-old in 1991. His provincial career comprised 83 games until 1996, when he began a seven-year club stint in Japan.

Upon return he took up a technical advisor role with Hawke's Bay before linking with the Blues.

Barry played 10 matches for the All Blacks and one test, the famous defeat of France in Paris in 1995 to send coach Laurie Mains off on a winning note.

He was part of the first family to provide three generations of All Blacks, following his father Kevin and grandfather Ned.