Moala-Ranger midfield excites Umaga

Date published: January 12 2016

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Blues head coach Tana Umaga is excited by the prospect of pairing George Moala and Rene Ranger at centre in the new Super Rugby season.

The powerful duo, who have impressed on both the wing and in midfield during their careers, are set to be alongside each other this year.

And new boss Umaga can't wait to see them in action as the Blues look to put last year's disappointing campaign to bed with a big 2016.

"They both see themselves as midfielders. They're pretty good, too," he told stuff.co.nz about the solid pair. "We realised they'll be a big package if we can get them on the field together. We've got outside backs that can complement them and work off what they can deliver.

"I know George is renowned for his power but he's very skilful. Ranger is similar.

"We've never played them together before. This is the hard thing; I don't know when Rene is back so when will we get a chance to trial that? Is it in the pre-season or if he can't get back we'll have to see it somewhere else.

"In a perfect world we'd have them back and get some game time prior to the first game [on February 26]. Even at training they run well together in the non-contact stuff but when there's heat on from everyone do they refer back to type and the wingers will get cold?

"We can only answer that once we give them a bit of time together," he added.

"With Ma'a and Conrad gone and Sonny Bill with the sevens, there's real opportunities to put on a lot of pressure in that midfield.

"If you look at the midfielders that have moved on in that 12 space, George fits into that mould as well."

It is unlikely Moala and Ranger will don the centre positions throughout the 2016 campaign though, as the arrival of Japan's Male Sa'u gives Umaga options.

"We want to make sure we're not wheeling them out day in, day out. I think that's what happened before and they couldn't keep their level of intensity all the time," he said.

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