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14 May, 2015 at 6:51 am in Auto
" The Auckland-based Blues will try to ease a mounting controversy around coaching appointments when they face the Pretoria-based Bulls on Friday in the opening match of the 14th round of Super Rugby.
The Blues and Bulls are three-time champions, though the Blues successes are distant memories and their current season is looming as the worst in their history. They won the Super Rugby title in each of the tournament's first two years and, most recently, in 2003 while the Bulls claimed championships three times between 2007 and 2010.
Blues management are expected later this year to announce the reappointment of John Kirwan as head coach, though the franchise has won only two of 12 games this year after finishing 10th under Kirwan in each of the last two years.
Women Mercurial Soccer Cleats At the same time, the Blues are reported to have approached former All Black Tabai Matson " currently an assistant coach with the Christchurch-based Crusaders " to join Kirwan's coaching team. The mid-season approach is believed to have angered the Crusaders, making Matson's position tenuous while doing little to silence calls for Kirwan's removal.
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The Crusaders' backline performances under Matson have been inconsistent, though they have three All Blacks flyhalves in their lineup, and he is not seen as a short-term solution to the Blues' form problems.
Kirwan is an immensely respected figure in New Zealand " knighted last year for his services to sport and to mental health after fronting a successful advertising campaign highlighting the dangers of depression. He is a gifted public speaker and hugely popular with the Blues corporate sponsors.
His critics believe he has had long enough to effect change if he is going to do so and are increasingly calling for his replacement.
Kirwan said on Wednesday that no decision on his future is likely to be made before the season ends in August. If the Blues can find a little form in their remaining matches against the Bulls, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders they might lessen pressure on Kirwan, though his reappointment already seems inevitable.
"That's up to the board. August is the date and we'll stick with it," Kirwan said. "It doesn't worry me.
"I've presented. I'm confident in the process and what the board are doing," he added. "I'm concentrating daily to get the boys ready for the Bulls."
women Hypervenom Phantom The Blues are currently last in the New Zealand conference and the only Kiwi team out of contention for the playoffs. The first-placed Hurricanes have a chance to extend their already formidable lead atop the conference and the overall championship table when they play the second-placed Chiefs on Saturday.
The Hurricanes lead the conference and competition by 10 points from the Chiefs and can make that lead almost unassailable if they beat the two-time champion Chiefs this weekend.
Saturday's match is the Wellington-based Hurricanes' last at home during the regular season and a win would go a long way to securing home matches throughout the playoffs.
"I'd like to think we do the business and come back here with a playoff game," captain Conrad Smith said. "That's a massive motivator for me."
adidas women f50 cleats Defending champions the New South Wales Waratahs need to recover from last weekend's surprise loss to the last-placed Western Force when they host the Durban-based Sharks on Saturday. Veteran backrower Wycliff Palu said the Waratahs aren't shocked to find themselves still struggling for a playoffs place near the end of the regular season.
"I wouldn't say it shocks us," he said. "We always knew it was going to be harder (this season than last).
"We are more disappointed with the way we have been playing really. There are still five games to go. There are a lot of points up for grabs. We should be pretty confident still."