Blues CEO Michael Redman: We need improved leadership

Dejected Blues players. Photo / Getty
Dejected Blues players. Photo / Getty

Blues chief executive Michael Redman has admitted that the Auckland franchise fell short of expectations in their Super Rugby season.

The Blues missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season, finishing in ninth place with seven wins, seven losses and a draw.

While their highlight came with a win over the British and Irish Lions, the low point was a humiliating 48-21 thrashing by the Sunwolves - the biggest Super Rugby upset this century.

Following an internal review, Redman says the Blues' season was a disappointment, with leadership one area which needs to be improved.

"Any season we don't make the playoffs is a "Not Achieved" season. We look at the season and in the end, we knew we had to be the fourth best team in New Zealand to make the playoffs, we fell short of that," Redman told Newstalk ZB.

"We expect to make the playoffs - we felt we had the squad and the coaching work to do that, and you can probably put it down to a handful of moments and a handful of games.

"I think the season has shown us that there's still a lot of improvement to be made in terms of on-field leadership and our players accept that - in fact that's what they've said in the review and many of them have said they want to put their hand up and accept more responsibility."

Redman argues that the Blues have been making progress, and do not want to overreact to another season without playoff rugby.

"Too often the Blues have been guilty of wielding the axe on players and coaches in the past without really getting down to the issue of why good people are not being successful in our club. We believe now that we've got a great set of coaches, a good set of players, we're building the environment for them to succeed, and we've got to keep going.

"We are making progress but no-one's happy with where we finished this year, and we won't be happy until we're back where we were in the days when the Blues were the benchmark."

Blues coach Tana Umaga has a year remaining on his contract, and Redman says the former All Black midfielder still has the full support of the team and the management, and could still remain in charge even if they miss the playoffs in 2018.

"Tana has the full support of our players, he has shown he can develop a gameplan, a strategic coaching plan, put together a coaching team and a squad that we think is capable of winning Super Rugby. We are confident that he has the goods to make it.

"The headline [key performance indicator] is the playoffs. [But] if we think there's more upside then those are the things we'll take into account."

- NZ Herald

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