Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has told his team to "grow up".
After his side's worst performance of the season, a 20-13 loss to the Brumbies at Eden Park last night, Kirwan issued some blunt messages to his troops.
It was refreshing honesty that was delivered with passion while cheers rang out of the Brumbies' dressing room.
Half-time footage from the changing rooms showed Kirwan lambasting his players, screaming instructions and waving his arms animatedly. And he had not calmed down post-match.
"No, I'm still angry," Kirwan said. "That was a very disappointing performance from an attitude point of view and I cannot accept that from our boys.
"Just hear them singing next door. You can't come to a game like this with an attitude like that. We need to take a serious look at ourselves. I'd like to apologise to the fans.
"I felt we were getting outpassioned in every part of the game and outplayed in the kicking. We just muddle through it; guys offside; guys not hitting rucks. We just weren't at home. This is playoff time. We need to step up. We can't look back and say 'we're a young team'. Forget that. Grow up. Get on with it.
"You can't turn up at this level and think it's going to happen."
At this rate it could be a long winter for the Blues, who struggle in the wet.
After copping a reality check in Christchurch last week they desperately needed to dismiss Jake White's stuttering men, who arrived on the back of two crucial losses.
They couldn't, and from here Kirwan's rebuilding side will battle to make the playoffs. On this evidence they are well off the pace.
Earlier this year the Blues were at their best when the lethal back three ignited the attack. All well and good when the sun is out and surface is dry but in the last two weeks, they have been exposed up front.
The Blues' tactics were all wrong. From sloppy slap-down lineout delivery to cute grubbers inside their own danger area, they did not help themselves.
With their forward pack failing to gain ascendancy at the breakdown, the set-piece disintegrating and first five-eighth Chris Noakes not owning the territory battle, the running game could not bail them out of trouble this time.
Repeated mistakes in their red zone became costly. George Moala, Peter Saili and Piri Weepu were all guilty of gifting the visitors ample opportunities. But they were not alone. If handling errors weren't frustrating Kirwan enough in a match that had "must-win" written all over it, he would have been seething at the lack of discipline that allowed the Brumbies to easily come away with points though Christian Lealiifano's boot. The second- five slotted 15 points.
Although they were better in the second spell the Blues needed to be much better than this.
Other than industrious openside flanker Luke Braid they were devoid of penetration. The Brumbies defence could re-gather all too easily.
Some serious regrouping is needed in Auckland.
"If anyone in that changing room makes excuses they should change franchise," Kirwan said. "You don't deserve to make it if you're not going to play at the right time. You can't gloss over that. Judge us on commitment next week. If you don't get that right you can't win."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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