Craig Dowd
'Blues fans changing allegiance and walking away'
Craig Dowd
May 13, 2015
Sir John Kirwan has been 'too honest' about his plans for the Blues © Getty Images

Sir John Kirwan has given everything he could possibly give to the Blues coaching position. But he's in a horrible place for a coach. His struggles, and those of the team, are not through a lack of trying or effort.

At the end of the day, a coach picks players for form and drops them for bad form; and that should really apply to the coach as well. Everyone has got a job in the game of rugby, and you get a tick in the box if you go forward; but if you go backwards, you get a black line through your name and you get dropped. That's where your accountability is.

John Kirwan has to look in the mirror here and ask: where is my accountability? That's a hard call but I think a bit of honesty is what's needed; continuing to say the Blues are heading in the right direction is just words.

What is the right direction? Where's that? We've heard that before, and talking about changing the environment; really, the environment changes with people. If you go to work every day and your grumpy boss moves on to be replaced by a nice boss, the environment changes automatically. It doesn't mean changing bricks and mortar, it means changing the feeling in and around the group.

Right now, there are Blues fans out there who are just changing allegiance and walking away. That's sad.

A clear and transparent process is what's needed. People say 'Who do you replace him with?', and I can name Kieran Keane, Peter Russell, Tabai Matson on his own merits, who could apply for the job. You don't campaign for another coach to come in; to do so just seems wrong.

Good on JK for doing the job, but I think the board need to talk to the public if they're not going to have an empty stadium next year; if you tell us why they are doing what they are doing, we can at least share the vision and fans will understand.

That's what I think the Blues need to do. Poor old JK is the voice piece, the one saying it all. But he needs to stop talking. I think he's been too honest with everything that is going on, and we've heard it all. He needs people above him to step up; if he is their man for the future, to take the Blues to a new era, then stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him and take up some of the load. Right now, there are Blues fans out there who are just changing allegiance and walking away. That's sad.

You can draw a comparison with the Crusaders, and what is happening there. They have lost Dan Carter, Tom Taylor and Colin Slade, and have made it very public they are looking for a 10. The Blues have been looking for a 10 for 15 years. The Crusaders have gone out and approached Stephen Brett; and they're talking to Otere Black, who is a fantastic player and will be a great signing. They are making noises and turning over every stone, and the hunt has started. I don't know if that is what is happening with the Blues, but it should be.

Tasman head coach Kieran Keane and assistant coach Leon MacDonald compare notes, Tasman v Hawke's Bay, ITM Cup, Championship final, Trafalgar Park, Nelson, October 25, 2013
Kieran Keane (L) has been linked with the Blues © Getty Images

I look at players like Simon Hickey and Ihaia West. They are good players, and players for the future. Give them the opportunity. If we are building for the future, the Blues need to say: 'I'm sorry Dan Bowden, you've been good, and a good leader, but Ihaia West is going to start every game now because he needs to get the experience out there. We're not hiding this kid, he's actually class, put him out there, start him every game.' This campaign has gone, the season is over, what can we salvage out of it? It's a chance to give these young players some experience so this time next year they're ready for Super Rugby.

Akira Ioane is a young player, and he has been a revelation. At the weekend he was a level above any Blues player. He was everywhere and he's got talent. There are positive signs there, but you can't rely on X-factor. X-factor will always be there, but it's the structures sitting in behind that count; X factor will get you to the front door, but hard work and talent alone will get you through it.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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