Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan was quick to take responsibility for what he labelled the ‘worst performance’ of the season as the Blues sunk to a 21-28 loss to the Bulls at Eden Park yesterday.
It was an error-ridden outing from Kirwan’s troops as they suffered their first defeat of the season, but Kirwan held his hand up to take the blame and said poor preparation cost his side.
“Consistency of performance is about consistency of preparation and I’ll take responsibility for that,” Kirwan said.
“We made some changes and I think we didn’t train as well as we could have all week so I’ll cop that on the chin.”
Kirwan made six changes to the starting XV from the side that defeated both the Hurricanes and Crusaders in the previous two rounds, and he said in retrospect it may have backfired.
“I don’t regret the decision but I think it may have had some influence – it’s always easy in hindsight. I don’t regret doing it but it could have had an impact on how we performed.
“I think it was a team thing. Everyone was five per cent off and we need to take a really good look at how we’re individually preparing for these games because consistency of preparation gives you consistency of performance.
“At this level it’s OK if one or two guys have an off day but I didn’t think there were the energy levels out there or the commitment to the game plan that we want to play.
“The most important thing for me is it needs to be a learning †I’ve certainly learned from it and it’s important that the team learns that if we’re going to play badly we need to play badly within our structures and if we can learn that from today it will be the best thing to happen for us.”
Captain Ali Williams said the blame couldn’t be apportioned to the coaching staff and said the players had to take responsibility for their lacklustre efforts.
“We’re a team that plays with the ball and stretches the defence and we resorted to playing their style of football which they’re the best in the world at.
“We weren’t great at the simple things and it cost us. I felt we lacked some real spark and that can’t come from the coaching staff, that comes from within individually. I’m pretty pissed off at how we played.”
However it’s not all doom and gloom for the Blues. They did manage to salvage one bonus point and with the Chiefs, Highlanders and Crusaders all losing on the same weekend, they haven’t lost any ground on the New Zealand conference ladder.
“We’d prefer to be sitting here with four or five points but I think with 11 points after the first three rounds we can sit back and say not mission accomplished but a pretty good start,” Kirwan said.
“We want to refresh the guys up then we need to get the excitement back. There wasn’t any excitement out there today and I’m really disappointed for the fans and the people that are supporting us because there wasn’t a lot of spark so we need to go away and then regroup and get over to the Waratahs and really explode.”
The Blues have the week off to refresh with the bye, before heading over to Sydney to take on the Waratahs on Sunday March 24 (kick-off 6.05pm).