Crowley believed to rival Lam as Blues ponder next season
MURRAY HILLS AND FAIRFAX NZ
Former Taranaki coach and current Canada head coach Kieran Crowley is believed to be on the shortlist for the Blues Super Rugby job next year.
Crowley, who coached Canada at last year's World Cup, is believed to be in a three-way race with incumbent Pat Lam and former All Black Sir John Kirwan for the Blues' top job.
Kirwan is thought to be running with former All Blacks skills coach and Japanese sidekick Mick Byrne.
Lam is seeking a further term after a four-year stint with 26 wins, 32 losses and a draw, with one game left this season – against the Brumbies.
Kirwan, like Crowley, has international experience having coached Japan at last year's World Cup.
Former Taranaki player John Plumtree was also understood to be in the running. But the former Wellington coach has since insisted he was staying on in South Africa where he is contracted to the Sharks for 2013.
It is believed the Blues will name their coach next week.
Lam fronted the media yesterday naming his team for Saturday's season-ending clash with the in-form Brumbies in Canberra. All interest and questions centred on the pending coaching appointment.
With candidates to be grilled by Blues management and the New Zealand Rugby Union tomorrow, Lam will remain in Auckland for the chance to fight for his role while the players fly out to Canberra today.
The separate travel arrangement is a strange scenario and one that could have been better scheduled to avoid further distractions.
"The interview process is on Friday. That's when it will all happen. I'll stay behind and then fly over late," Lam said.
"It normally takes a couple of hours. I'll catch up with the team in Canberra on Friday. It is what it is. All I miss is the travel over.
"I'll catch up with them afterwards."
Lam has a 44 per cent winning record across his tenure.
There is a school of thought Lam may be asked stay on as part of a wider coaching group next season, but, at this stage, he has applied solely to be head coach. He had not yet indicated who his assistants would be. That would be part of the process tomorrow.
"There's nothing down for assistant coach. I'm the head coach now and they are looking for a head coach. There's no talk about an assistant," he said.
Lam would only consider his future options once the decision had been made.
"There are always plenty of options but the focus is on this week. Professional coaches will always get jobs. This is the job I'm focused on. Once I have no job then I'll find another one. That's been my life. I've always been employed."
The Blues have, meanwhile, lost Rene Ranger to a groin strain but regained prop Charlie Faumuina for the first time in two months. It will be just the third time the Blues have fielded a full-strength front-row this season. Hadleigh Parkes replaces Ranger and the impressive Steven Luatua shifts from flanker to lock.
BLUES: Canberra is: Charles Piutau, Lachie Munro, Francis Saili, Ma'a Nonu, Hadleigh Parkes, Michael Hobbs, Piri Weepu, Luke Braid, Daniel Braid, Chris Lowrey, Steven Luatua, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau, Andrew Van der Heijden, Peter Saili, Alby Mathewson, Orene Ai'I, Sherwin Stowers.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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