Highlanders coach Mauger not offered new contract

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Otago Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has not been offered a new contract by the team and ended his tenure after three years in charge, the Super Rugby side said on Thursday.

Former All Blacks midfielder Mauger was appointed to the role ahead of the 2018 season, taking over from Highlanders stalwart Tony Brown who had moved to Japan to assist Jamie Joseph.

The Highlanders made the Super Rugby quarter-finals in his first two years but finished fourth in New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa that ended last month after the broader competition was cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’ve worked with some top-quality people who are outstanding at what they do and I wish them all the best going forward,” Mauger, who played 45 tests for the All Blacks, said in a statement on Thursday.

“As our on-field results during my tenure haven’t been at the level we’ve all aspired to, its the head coach who must take responsibility for that.”

Highlanders Chief Executive Roger Clark said they would take their time looking for Mauger’s replacement.

Brown, however, moved back to Dunedin as an assistant to Mauger earlier this year and is likely a strong contender to step back into the head coaching role.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Kim Coghill