LIVE

    All Blacks great to coach Blues

    2012-07-17 07:45

    Wellington - Former All Blacks great John Kirwan was appointed head coach of the Blues on Tuesday, replacing Pat Lam at the helm of the underperforming Super Rugby franchise.

    Kirwan, a 63-Test veteran who has also coached Italy and Japan at Rugby World Cups, said he was thrilled to be returning to New Zealand to coach in Auckland, where be began his career.

    But the 47-year-old also acknowledged he faced a difficult task in turning around the Blues, who finished 12th on the ladder this year with 12 losses and four wins.

    "I'm really excited about connecting with fans and working with the Blues community," he said. "There is certainly some hard work ahead and I am looking forward to the challenge."

    Kirwan said he wanted to introduce a new era of "success and innovation" at the Blues, who won the last of their three Super Rugby titles in 2003.

    They were tipped as contenders at the beginning of the season after finishing fourth last year and adding star players Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu to a formidible roster that included Jerome Kaino, Keven Mealamu and Rene Ranger.

    Instead, a combination of injuries and uninspired performances cast them in the unaccustomed role of New Zealand Conference's easybeats, leading to calls for Lam's departure.

    Kirwan was the unanimous choice of a joint Blues-New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) panel charged with finding Lam's replacement.

    Blues chairperson Gary Whetton said he hoped Kirwan, who has been signed on a two-year contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, could revive the former powerhouse, which has the largest player catchment area in New Zealand.

    "It's been a tough season for the Blues - our supporters expect the team to play winning rugby, as we all do," he said.

    "The challenge is clearly laid down for John and we look forward to seeing positive results."

    Kirwan, a World Cup winner with New Zealand in 1987, coached Italy from 2002-05 and Japan from 2007-11, introducing an attractive running game to the Brave Blossoms.

    However, it failed to translate into wins for Japan at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, prompting his departure at the end of last year's tournament in New Zealand.

    He was awarded a knighthood last month for services to rugby and his advocacy for sufferers of depression, a cause he took up after detailing his own battle the illness in the book "All Blacks Don't Cry".

    Read More On:  blues super 15 john kirwan rugby

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    11 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    • Blitz
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
    • SS1
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
    • SS2
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
    • SS3
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk
    /Sport

    Fixtures

    01 May 2015
    • Highlanders v Sharks, Forsyth Barr Stadium 09:35
    • Brumbies v Waratahs, GIO Stadium 11:40
    02 May 2015
    • Blues v Force, Eden Park 07:30
    • Hurricanes v Crusaders, Westpac Stadium 09:35
    • Rebels v Chiefs, AAMI Park 11:40
    • Cheetahs v Stormers, Free State Stadium 17:05
    • Bulls v Lions, Loftus Versfeld 19:10
    08 May 2015
    • Crusaders v Reds, AMI Stadium 09:35
    • Rebels v Blues, AAMI Park 11:40

    Results

    26 April 2015
    25 April 2015
    24 April 2015
    18 April 2015
    17 April 2015
    11 April 2015
    10 April 2015
    04 April 2015
    03 April 2015
    28 March 2015
    27 March 2015
    22 March 2015
    21 March 2015
    20 March 2015
    14 March 2015
    13 March 2015
    07 March 2015
    06 March 2015
    28 February 2015
    27 February 2015
    21 February 2015
    20 February 2015
    15 February 2015
    14 February 2015
    13 February 2015

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    The South African Conference is up for grabs after Round 9 of action. Who do you see finishing top when all is said and done?

    Monday Quiz Madness!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.