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Kirwan remains defiant as the job-axe looms

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Pressure mounts on Sir John Kirwan after loss 4


The New Zealand media have turned on an iconic All Black in the wake of the Blues' winless start to the Super Rugby season.

The Blues slumped to their fourth straight loss, a first for the three-time former champions, after a willing and determined Lions team edged them 13-10 in Albany on Saturday.

The result, which leaves the Blues at the bottom of the standings with just two losing bonus points to show for their efforts, has sparked calls for coach John Kirwan's dismissal.

Under the headline 'Blues lose to Lions, is Kirwan a goner?' ONE Newssuggested that you can "hear the blades sharpening in Auckland".

"Under huge pressure already, John Kirwan has dug himself a deeper, more cavernous hole, surely one that will have dirt piling in from around the city," the TV station said of the iconic All Black, who has been knighted for his achievements in the game.

The New Zealand Herald also pulled no punches with a headline that said: 'Blues coach's head on the block'

"Open season has started on John Kirwan and this week's rumours of his looming demise at the Blues will probably not be the last," columnist Patrick McKendry said in the mass-circulated daily.

"John Kirwan's Blues have finished 10th of 15 teams for two years straight, and he knows they need a top-six finish this year."

The Blues at the weekend strongly denied a report that they were sounding out alternatives to Kirwan as head coach.

Kirwan, in the final year of his contract, is under pressure for results after two years of wildly inconsistent performances from his team.

Chief executive Michael Redman denied the franchise had made contact with Tasman NPC coach Kieran Keane, as suggested in aRadio Sport report.

In a statement headlined "Blues strongly deny unfounded rumours", Redman said no one from the organisation had approached any other coach.

"The board and management are fully focused on their full support of Kirwan, the staff and team," he told the New Zealand Herald.

But McKendry did not let that stop him, with a very dismissive report of the Lions' win and taking pot-shots at the Blues and their coach - calling it "one of the most disappointing defeats in history".

"The only thing more humiliating about being dragged into a dog fight with the Lions, is being dragged into that fight and then losing," theHerald columnist said.

"However bad things appeared at the Blues, they are in fact worse. A home defeat to the Lions - that's as bad as it gets.

"And it's not as if there was any outrageous misfortune or injustice behind this defeat. Nope, it has to be chalked up to a stunning lack of precision and accuracy. It has to be blamed on an attack game that has gone totally up the spout.

"The Lions were relentlessly awful. Exactly what purpose they were there to serve wasn't easy to tell.

"If their goal was simply to make up the numbers, then they needed to reassess - as they fell short. Devoid of any known players, any real ambition or direction, the Lions were relentlessly awful.

"And they won. Let's be clear on that - they were that bad and they won.

"What does that say about the Blues? Well, it means the pressure coach John Kirwan was under before the game has now doubled.

"It means that, if the Blues were honest and they haven't already contacted Tasman coach Kieran Keane, they should be on the blower this morning. To lose to the Lions means the last vestige of hope for 2015 has gone. This campaign is not going to recover. Not from here. Not when the Blues have so little idea what to do with the ball.

"That sort of cluelessness doesn't fix itself easily and what a tragedy that two Blues stalwarts - Jerome Kaino and Keven Mealamu - had to endure such an awful night when they were both chalking up significant milestones."


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