Wellington - The New Zealand Rugby Union has guaranteed Blues coach Pat Lam he will stay in the job throughout this Super Rugby season despite a disappointing 1-5 start.
The under-fire Lam broke down at a press conference on Wednesday when he told reporters of racial comments posted by the team's critics on social networking sites.
The former All Blacks and Samoa rugby international described as "deeply offensive" comments - some of which were posted on the Blues' own website- which drew attention to the Pacific Island and Maori heritage of the coach and many players.
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said on Thursday the New Zealand Rugby Union has "zero tolerance for any racial abuse or activity."
"As a New Zealander, because I don't think this is only a rugby issue, I'm appalled," Tew said.
"I find the whole ability by people to hide behind social media and be faceless and to criticise people personally and to bring race and religion or anything else into it, is just a very disappointing part of our country."
Lam has an option to extend his Blues contract by a year after this season and Tew said his position would not be reviewed before the end of the current season.
"This is a private employment matter so I can't really say much more than that," he said. "I imagine Pat is only wanting to focus on what is ahead of him today and tomorrow and Saturday."
In New Zealand, all Super Rugby coaches and players are centrally contracted to the New Zealand Rugby Union. Individual teams can select players and appoint coaches but they are contracted and paid by the national union.
The Blues will have input on Lam's future but the final decision on his reappointment after this season rests with the NZRU.