15 May 2015

Kirwan's future still up in the air

4:08 pm on 15 May 2015

The Blues Super Rugby franchise says either Sir John Kirwan will be reappointed as head coach next year or his position will be made contestable.

Sir John Kirwan and Michael Redman front media before the 2015 Super Rugby season

Sir John Kirwan and Michael Redman front media before the 2015 Super Rugby season Photo: Photosport

In response to media speculation, the Blues released a statement on Friday describing two options it's considering to appoint coaches for 2016.

The Blues are suffering a dismal season under Sir John, prompting reports the All Blacks great may be replaced.

The media also linked the Crusaders assistant coach Tabai Matson to an approach from the Blues, which Matson on Thursday confirmed while announcing he'll remain in Canterbury.

The Blues chief executive Michael Redman said questions from the media on his team's future coaching structure have disrupted his players' focus on winning games.

Redman said the Blues chairman Tony Carter released the statement to dispel misinformation and to explain to the team's fans what's happening.

"The Blues board has narrowed its focus to two clear options; to reappoint incumbent head coach Sir John Kirwan as part of a restructured coaching group; or to create a contestable process for the head coach and vacant positions," said Carter.

"In the process of considering the first option confidential information has been leaked to the media which has undermined the process and created inappropriate pressure on various participants."

Carter said the impact on the Blues current coaching staff and players is unacceptable.

"Blues management remains focused on supporting the staff and players as they prepare for the remaining home games.

"Under the circumstances the commitment of Blues players and staff has been exemplary," he said.

The Blues hope to decide which of the two options it will pursue by the end of May, but it could take longer according to Redman.

Media reports suggested the Blues wanted Matson to be one of their assistant coaches in 2016, which would lead to him taking over as head coach of the franchise.

Redman denied the Blues would make the head coaching position contestable for next season if a suitable assistant to Sir John could not be found.

"The options are stand alone," said Redman. "They're not linked. One is not contingent on the other."

On Thursday, the Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach confirmed Matson would stay in Christchurch and described media speculation around the issue as "intolerable in a team environment."

Both Riach and Redman acknowledge it's normal for players and coaches to be approached by other teams mid-season, but Redman has suggested that a window be created for such business to occur.

"All Super clubs, I think, would agree there needs to be a window where contracting occurs," said Redman.

"Right now, I would have half a dozen Blues players who other clubs in New Zealand are attempting to contract at a time when we're trying to prepare and win games."

"The Crusaders are not alone in the distraction of other clubs trying to recruit players and sometimes coaches mid-season," he said.