Sir John unloads on his Blues
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan unleashed both barrels on his side for failing to turn up with the required attitude and for squandering a golden opportunity to claim a vital win over the Brumbies at Eden Park on Saturday.
Kirwan said: "That was a very disappointing performance from an attitude point of view and I cannot accept that from our boys. You just had to watch a game last night [Chiefs v Crusaders] to see guys flying into everything then watch our first 40 minutes. It was just not acceptable."
The game had been lost in the first 20 minutes, he said.
The problem with the attitude was that there hadn't been one.
Captain Ali Williams said the side had just drifted through the match and thought it [the win] was going to happen.
As the sounds of Brumbies celebratory songs echoed through the bowels of Eden Park into the media conference room, Kirwan said that was an example of how big the game had been.
"[If] you can't come with attitude to a game like this then we have to take a serious look at ourselves," he said.
Kirwan also apologised to the fans.
He said the side were out-passioned in every part of the game and were out-played in the kicking game.
The Blues had just muddled through the game, getting off-side, not hitting rucks well enough and just not at home.
"This is play-off time. We've got to step up. We can't look back and say 'Oh you know we're a young team'. Forget that, grow up and get on with it," he said.
There had been a recovery in the second half and pride and passion had been evident as the Blues got back into the game.
He was perplexed how a penalty try had not been awarded early in the second half and a yellow card when the same play by the Blues had been penalised with a yellow card last week.
But that lack of consistency in ruling had not been why the Blues lost the game.
"The reason we lost the football game is that we didn't turn up to play and it took us 40 minutes to get started then the game was hard to claw back.
"The second half? If we play like that for 80 minutes we'll be competing with anyone in this competition. But you can't just turn up at this level and think it's going to happen."
Kirwan said when clawing back to 10-14 down, the Blues failed to kick on.
"You can't start the game at halftime and expect to win."
There had been several distractions during the week but to talk about that was making excuses and if any of the players wanted to make excuses they should change franchises, he said.
"We can say the ref, we can say whatever we want but we lost the football game tonight through attitude and that is unacceptable if you put that jersey on. I cannot sit here and say 'Yeah it was the kicking game, yeah it was the conditions' because I will not accept anything that the Blues tonight lost a football game in front of their fans is unacceptable."
Williams said there was hurt in the dressing room which was because the team was not glossing over rubbish anymore, but it was down to the players looking at themselves because it wasn't acceptable if the team wanted to get to where it wanted to be.
Asked if the season could still be saved, Kirwan said he didn't care if the side won or lost. He was more determined to see them realise their potential. If they played to their potential with passion, commitment and excitement they were a side that were hard to beat.
They could recover the situation but they had let an opportunity go against the Brumbies and they didn't deserve to make the play-offs if they didn't take their chances at the right time.
"We've just got to front up and be honest about ourselves," he said.
The fans and media could judge the side in their next game, against the Highlanders in Dunedin, on commitment. Forget about the score, he said, and see who wants to play the game more than the opposition.
"If we don't get that right you can't win. This is a very good football team - when they want to play football. They could have won tonight, but they didn't," he said.