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Sir John Kirwan under pressure at Blues
ESPN Staff
July 12, 2014
Blues 8-11 Chiefs (Australia only)

The Blues "need to be making the play-offs every year", and head coach Sir John Kirwan accepts he is under pressure to keep his job after the team fell short for the second successive campaign under his control.

The Blues needed to defeat the Chiefs by 38 points and claim a bonus point at Eden Park on Friday to reach the finals for the first time since 2011, but they never looked likely to produce such a remarkable result in wet and wild conditions. The Blues now have played finals rugby only six times, and only three times since making the first three title deciders , but Kirwan said on Saturday that he understood fully the ramifications of a third failure on his watch.

The Blues' Sir John Kirwan smiles after victory, Western Force v Blues, Super Rugby, nib Stadium, Perth, June 28, 2014
Sir John Kirwan hasn't had a lot to smile about in charge of the Blues © Getty Images
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"It's my third year and we'll be expecting to make the top six," Kirwan said in a radio interview on Saturday when asked about the 2015 season.

"I want this franchise to win and I'm in charge. So, if that doesn't happen, then people will be looking at what I'm doing. I don't think it's the play-offs or bust, I think there needs to be improvement in the team. I'd say it's more disappointment than failure that we didn't make the top six.

"It's important next year we play well enough to make the top six and I think that will reflect on me as well. It's important we have another good season of growth next year and if we make the strides we made this year, and build on this young team, then we should be playing the play-offs."

Kirwan was speaking after Chris Rattue had posted a withering criticism for the New Zealand Herald, writing that "Kirwan has shown little sign of any special coaching knack, and the strange comings and goings - led by the Benji Marshall saga - reveal a lack of clever recruitment strategies".

"Maybe Kirwan does not have the coaching chops," Rattue wrote..

"The Blues can't get their act together, week to week, with Kirwan's confusing first five-eighths choices a damning statement against his record … Kirwan comes across as a man who protects his image vigorously, and for now there is enough goodwill to see him through.

"The pressure is truly on this time. Public perception can only be manipulated so far."

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