The Auckland Blues on Monday named former Scotland and Fiji national coach Vern Cotter the new head coach of the Super Rugby Pacific side on a two-season deal.

Cotter replaces Leon MacDonald, who ended his five seasons in charge to join the All Blacks coaching group next year as an assistant.

The 61-year-old Cotter's two-year contract is matched by new Blues assistant coach Jason O'Halloran, a one-Test All Black who was the Scottish assistant during most of Cotter's coaching tenure there from 2014 to 2017.

"I've watched this club thrive in recent years and I'm excited by the challenge of taking them forward and building on what is a very strong base," said Cotter, whose three years in charge of Fiji ended in February.

"It's great to have Jason joining me at the Blues. Since our time in Scotland we've remained firm friends and often pick up the phone to discuss current trends in the game - I know he'll add real value to an already strong coaching team."

The Blues won the last of their three Super Rugby titles in 2003, a record considered inadequate at what is comfortably New Zealand's biggest franchise by population and playing numbers.

The Auckland-based side improved under MacDonald, reaching the final in 2022 and the semi-finals this year, but were eliminated by the champion Canterbury Crusaders on both occasions.

Head coaching vacancies at two other New Zealand teams were filled last month.

The Crusaders announced Rob Penney will replace Scott Robertson, who is to become the All Blacks head coach in 2024 after capturing seven successive Super Rugby titles.

Clark Laidlaw will take charge at the Wellington Hurricanes, with Jason Holland leaving to be an All Blacks assistant.