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Kirwan aiming to create a Blues legacy in five years


Blues coach John Kirwan wants to bring the glory days back for the Blues

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Article Published: Tuesday 19 February 2013


New Blues coach Sir John Kirwan wants to take the Blues back to their glory days and has been analysing what worked and what didn't work in the past.

Kirwan has been full of quotes about greatness and team work as he attempts to build up pride in the Blues brand in the players and in the city of Auckland.

"There is an old Maori saying that if you want to have faith and confidence in the future, you must first stand on the shoulders of the past," Kirwan said.

The coach has spent years outside of New Zealand and on his return he has been surprised and upset by the level of pride as well as interest in the Blues.

Kirwan says that he wants to see the Blues play for each other and never give up.

"Players will have to show passion and commitment every day. That is not negotiable," he says.

"There may be big wins or soft losses and people will be able to see what is going on. "

The 48-year-old Kiwan has a wealth of international coaching experience having coached Italy and Japan and he sees the Blues as a long haul project.

"Ideally, I think you need two years to implement and see good results and five years to create a legacy.

"We need to get back to the levels where we make the playoffs every season for the next 20 years to get that legacy back."

Before and after he was appointed coach, Kirwan searched for ideas about the regeneration of the Blues and has now enlisted a group of former players - Joe Stanley, Wayne Shelford, Michael Jones, Justin Collins, Craig Innes and Eric Rush - to pick their brains.

Whenever they can, the group visit the side to offer ideas or answer questions from the current squad.

Kirwan and his coaching staff of Mick Byrne, Grant Doorey and Graham Henry want to bring back the days of when the Blues were a high-tempo and high-impact team with plenty of skills.

"That is how we have to play otherwise we get bored. That identifies our city and our region," Kirwan told the NZHerald.

Kirwan has rejigged roles within the team so he can get on with his primary coaching role. He, the staff and the team settled on a playing style which suited their nature and needs.

"I gave the players our vision and told them to take it away and come back with their thoughts. When they came back we implemented it."

"There was some tweaking but we agreed quickly with the leadership group on our game plan."

"My job is to make them better players so I have a system of coaching to make them better each day."

"From a coaching point of view I need to supply something that makes that happen. Then I want to give them the responsibility of the game because they are the ones asked to deliver it.

"I call it Lego. I give them all the pieces but they have to put it together. Think of a box on the floor and only a kid knows where he is going to put all the pieces," he says.

"If I can give them all the pieces - individually, collectively, tactically, technically - then they have all the tools to perform."

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