Head coach Aaron Mauger has left the Highlanders after three years with the Super Rugby franchise.

Mauger replaced Tony Brown in the top job at the Dunedin-based side in August 2017, but his tenure has come to an end after his contract was not renewed.

The 39-year-old departs on the back of a disappointing Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign in which the Highlanders won just three matches.

Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said: “Aaron has focused on improving and developing players and, in that regard, he can be very proud of his efforts and we thank him for everything he has done for the club.

“As a young coach with a long career ahead, we wish him and his family all the best for the next chapter of his coaching career.”

Mauger said that he can have no complaints over the decision.

“Results are key to proving the quality of the structures you have put in place as a head coach,” he said. “As our on-field results during my tenure haven’t been at the level we’ve all aspired to, it’s the head coach who must take responsibility for that.”

Clark added the Highlanders are in no rush to name Mauger’s successor.

“We have a little bit of time before we need to make a final decision on our coaching structure for 2021. We are fortunate we have quality coaches in Tony Brown, Clarke Dermody and Riki Flutey still contracted,” he said.

“Over the next short period we will be reviewing our coaching structure and who and how many we add to our current group will depend on availability and our desire to get the balance of our coaching group right.”