Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has admitted he is under pressure to keep his job, saying the franchise needs to make the Super Rugby playoffs next season in order to appease a disappointed fan base.
Kirwan acknowledged today the Blues failing to make the playoffs for the second straight year had been a disappointment and said a third year out of the finals would certainly mean failure.
As boss of the team, he accepts, should next year be another failed campaign, he will be under fire to hold on to his job.
"Next year we'll be under pressure because we need to make the playoffs," Kirwan said in a radio interview today.
"I fully understand the ramifications of that. It's my third year and we'll be expecting to make the top six. There's no qualms about that.
"I want this franchise to win and I'm in charge. So, if that doesn't happen, then people will be looking at what I'm doing.
"I don't think it's the playoffs or bust, I think there needs to be improvement in the team. I'd say it's more disappointment than failure that we didn't make the top six.
"[But] we need to be making the playoffs every year.
"It's important next year we play well enough to make the top six and I think that will reflect on me as well.
"It's important we have another good season of growth next year and if we make the strides we made this year, and build on this young team, then we should be playing the playoffs."
Unlike the last two seasons, however, Kirwan will not have coaching assistance from World Cup-winning All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry, who is stepping back from the franchise.
"I think we're getting better, we'll be a year older from an experience point of view," Kirwan said.
"We've got a pretty solid team, we won't be changing too much but there's certainly some positions we will be looking at.
"Nine and 10 are positions that need to be settled. We need to make sure they're consistent and our guys now how to win the tight games and prepare properly each week.
"We've got a few spots available and will be watching NPC"
What winning margin and team are you tipping for the Super Rugby final?