By Lee Stace
PAT LAM has been given the flick. Now it’s time others at the Blues are handed the same treatment following the side's Super Rugby annus horribilis in 2012.
If the franchise is serious about turning things around and restoring the side to its former glory, then it needs to look at every aspect of its entire organisation. No chief executive, board member, administrator and player should be immune to the cleansing that urgently needs to take place.
However, it appears Lam will be the only fall guy.
He hinted as much when he fronted the media for one last time on Tuesday after news broke that he had been sacked. Lam implied that he was the sacrificial, er, lamb; that he was the scapegoat.
There is no doubt that he had to go. With the exception of taking last year’s class on a semifinal fieldtrip, his four seasons in charge did not yield the success a talent-laden franchise like the Blues were expected to bask in during his tenure.
This season, he got his selections wrong. He chopped and changed his crucial 8-9-10 axis too often in the early part of the campaign and misplaced faith in some players who were simply not up to Super Rugby standard while leaving others who were out in the cold.
But the troubled franchise’s problems run deeper than the former coach. Much deeper.
Long-serving chief executive Andy Dalton also needs to be in the firing line. Since he inherited the role in 2006, there has been a lack of success, player development and questionable decisions.
This year’s side was significantly under-resourced on the coaching front. Liam Barry was not replaced as defence mentor after he took up the North Harbour job last year. Jeff Wilson was part-time for much of the season as skills coach.
Compare that to the Chiefs, who have three assistants lending a hand to Dave Rennie, and you can see Lam was handicapped right from the onset.
Dalton had a large say in these things and yet despite constant public probes and calls for accountability, he has somehow kept his job.
Of course, there is a reason why he has. It’s because the Blues are very much run by an old-boys club – one which is resistant to change and not willing to turn on its own when times are tough.
Blues chairman Gary Whetton ruled out in Rugby News earlier this year a fully independent review, saying the Blues “aren’t broken”.
His comments are sadly a reflection of the attitude of those running the organisation.
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.