Expect Tana Umaga to be reappointed in the coming weeks. Despite another run of disastrous results from the beleaguered Blues, it seems Umaga's retention only needs rubber-stamping.

Reading between the carefully-scripted lines uttered by under-pressure Blues chief executive Michael Redman on Tuesday, that was the main takeaway.

There was certainly no suggestion Umaga is about to be pushed aside.

"We're working through that at the moment. It's fair to say there's plenty of support for Tana within NZ Rugby and the Blues," Redman said. "We think he has a great rugby brain; he has the respect of the players, he has my support and the support of the board.


"In the end we haven't been able to deliver and changing coaches every cycle hasn't worked for the Blues previously so our preferred option would be to try work with the group we have but we have to make sure we get the shifts as well."

Debate is sure to rage about the merits of reappointing Umaga, particularly with a new contract, likely to be one or two years, coming well before conclusions can be fully made about this, the final season of his initial three-year deal.

If the decision to reappoint Umaga was made well before now, as has been suggested, then waiting two more weeks to confirm the announcement leaves Redman and the Blues with egg of their face. It is a much harder sell for all concerned in the current climate.

"When speculation starts and people are coming off contract it can be really disruptive and unsettling for them so our view would be to try nail this in the next few weeks rather than months."

After giving head coaches Pat Lam and Sir John Kirwan the flick in recent times, the Blues appear to have gone full circle in favour of maintaining faith. This time, they still believe Umaga is the right man to turn this team around.

As it stands, with six losses from eight games this season and victory over the Jaguares at Eden Park this Saturday far from guaranteed, evidence to support Umaga's credentials is in short supply.

Improvements and successes have come under Umaga – the win over the British and Irish Lions last year the most notable. But a first playoff appearance in seven years grows more fanciful with every outing. Ultimately, this measurement matters most.

That is why the Blues had 11,000 attend their home derby match against the Highlanders last week, while across town the buoyant Warriors welcomed 18,000. The situation is so dire that Redman admitted the Blues had reached out to the Warriors for advice about resuscitation methods.


"They're happy to share their journey over the last few years and that's the nature of sport we're very collegial and we share what we can.

"People vote with their feet if they're not seeing performances they're not happy with and we have to accept that."

Blues fans are fed up. Rightly so. A continued run of 15 straight defeats to New Zealand opposition clings to this team like a 10 tonne home detention bracelet. The embarrassing loss to the Sunwolves last year also sits on Umaga's watch.

Umaga, the revered former All Blacks captain, arrived at the helm of the Blues in 2016 with widespread support; the anointed one to fix the unfixable after success with Counties Manukau.

As many before him discovered, the Blues' problems run much deeper than surface cracks.

This season Umaga has not been helped by a string of injuries – 18 in total. That has forced promotion of fringe players to starting roles, only enhancing a sense of dysfunction and plummeting confidence.

The presence of rookie first five-eighth Stephen Perofeta at fullback highlights struggles with quality depth. At this stage in his development, the 21-year-old should be nurtured, not grappling with playing out of position.

In this regard Umaga is merely making do with depleted stocks, though some selections have been questionable.

When it comes to breaking this cycle of failure, recruitment and retention are clear challenges the Blues face.

Redman, for all his well-planned corporate speak, had no genuine answers for the path forward other than asserting Umaga would stay and hinting there may be changes to the wider coaching team which includes Alistair Rogers (defence), Steve Jackson (forwards), Dave Ellis (skills), Kylie Wilson (mental skills), Jason Price (conditioning) and Ben Afeaki (scrum).

"If you make a change someone is going to want to start again. Do we have an appetite for that or do we keep going with those who have been at the coalface for a while and bank the institutional knowledge and experience we have so far?

"We'll work through a process to determine what the coaching group looks like.
"The head coach is the most important appointment we make but he is one of four or five. Getting the coaching group right and the support around the head coach is important."