Chris Rattue sends out an SOS call on behalf of the hapless Blues this morning; check this out:
Sir Graham Henry for the Blues. Now.The World Cup-winning coach is needed in his old stamping ground to nurse a dishevelled side through to respectability or perhaps inspire a miracle recovery act in what is shaping as the Blues' most disgracefully disastrous season ever.The Blues board must perform radical surgery on the fallen giant, starting with the immediate sacking of coach Pat Lam. They could leave Bryce Woodward in the assistant role, and tug on Henry's heart strings should he need any persuading. Henry, who won two Super titles with the Blues and assisted them to their last triumph way back in 2003, would come in as an interim head coach before a giant cleanout takes place at Eden Park before next season.Among those who need to be shown the door are the ineffective chief executive Andy Dalton, but I'd also be shipping out a few old hands like Ali Williams. Even the wondrous Keven Mealamu looks burned out.In defence of Dalton, he has accepted the mounting criticism in the right light, saying it shows people care and he acknowledged that his whole organisation must share responsibility. But Dalton's tenure has failed to put the franchise on the right track, as was required.
And Rattue doesn't exempt the NZRU from the Blues' woeful situation; read on:
The contracting system also deserves scrutiny, because Lam's contract - and with it Auckland's aspirations - is in the hands of the NZRU. And as became clear at the Chiefs - where Kremlin favourite Ian Foster was retained despite years of poor results - the top brass sometimes operate to their own, contrasting, agenda.Lam has to go, and right now. This is unlikely to happen, this being rugger, old chap. But a new coaching set-up should be put in place before the match against the Sharks on Friday night. There's nothing wrong with blood letting either, when appropriate. And now is appropriate.We've all had enough. The loss to the Melbourne Rebels was downright embarrassing, leaving this rotten, misfiring outfit with one win in six and at the foot of the Super 15 ladder. Apart from a stonking scrummaging display from Tony Woodcock, the rest was not within a bull's roar of what should be expected from a team out of this city.The Rebels were a Super 15 joke until recently and play in a state where the citizens follow rugby with all the vigour most of us reserve for dog racing. Victorians live for Aussie rules and many would hardly know they had a professional rugby team in the city. In contrast, rugby is the No 1 sport in Auckland, featuring a past laced with glamour.
We often disagree with Chris Rattue and his often-caustic opinion pieces. But on this one, he's right on the mark. The Blues have been dreadful this season. The signing of Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu has only served to revitalise the Hurricanes, rather than the team the Wellingtonians signed for. We're starting to reckon that Mark Hammett needed last season before he could start to achieve with the 'Canes.