The Blues have bolstered their backroom staff by appointing former Hurricanes and Maori All Blacks lock Paul Tito as their forwards coach for the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season.
The 44-year-old will join the Auckland-based franchise after spending much of the last four years getting coaching experience overseas and joins the Blues as a replacement for Ben Afeaki who has Rugby New York in Major League Rugby in the United States.
Excited by Blues challenge
Tito has worked as current NPC title and Ranfurly Shield holders Wellington’s forwards coach for the past two seasons and is excited by the challenge of coaching at Super Rugby Pacific level with the Blues.
“I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with the boys this season,” he told the Blues’ official website.
“It’s an exciting squad Leon and his fellow coaches have put together. There’s a lot of consistency in personnel which I think is a really good thing – I’m sure they’ll be hungry after last season and want to go one better.”
Apart from his spell with Wellington, Tito, who was a professional player for 12 years, also had coaching stints with Taranaki and the Western Force while internationally he had a coaching stint with Georgia, who recently beat Wales in an Autumn Nations Series Test in Cardiff.
As a player, he spent seven seasons with the Hurricanes before playing for Cardiff from 2007 to 2012 and captained the Welsh outfit when they won the European Challenge Cup and EDF Energy Cup.
Tito believes his playing and coaching experience will stand him in good stead in his new position at the Blues.
“I’ve been around rugby for a while now so I’m looking forward to imparting what I have learnt over the years to this vibrant and exciting group of Blues forwards,” he said. “As a former lock, I’ll have a focus on the lineout, from what I’ve seen there’s a good foundation to build from and I’ll also add my little bit of spice to the equation.”
Keen to work with Tito
Blues head coach, Leon MacDonald, is looking forward to working with Tito.
“I played against Paul a lot back in the day – he was always a dogged and hard working opponent,” MacDonald said.
“I’ve been impressed with what he’s done from a coaching standpoint in recent years, you only have to look at Georgia’s recent win over Wales and Wellington’s success to see the impact someone like Paul can have on a group.”