Super Rugby 2019: Blues chairman Don Mackinnon admits shortcomings as season review begins

The Blues have finished another season at the bottom of the New Zealand Super Rugby conference and the post-mortem is already underway. 

And it seems everyone - including chief executive Michael Redman - is under the microscope.

A new board and a new coaching group were ultimately unable to prevent the franchise's campaign coming to another disappointing conclusion.

Blowing a 19-point lead against the Hurricanes wasn't how the Blues hoped to end their season.

The match wasn't a reflection of the season for chairman Don Mackinnon, but he pulls no punches in his summary of where the Blues are positioned.

"Firstly, can I say it's not good enough," Mackinnon told Newshub. "Finishing fifth out of five isn't where we're aiming to be.

"I think we hoped to make the top eight. I think we had the quality to make the top eight and I don't think the Blues should ever aim for less than that.

"There's disappointment and there's an element of frustration, but there's a sense this is the beginning of something better and I genuinely believe that."

Mackinnon is one of New Zealand's most experienced figures in sporting governance. Specialising in high performance, he was appointed ahead of the 2019 campaign.

Does he believe it's a high-performing franchise?

"It's on its way. The track record shows it hasn't been in the past.

"If you're really high performance, you ultimately deliver the results at the end.

"I do see real cause for optimism... the guys lost six games by five points or less.

"I'm frustrated, but I'm smiling, because the potential is massive. It'll take time - a year or two - but we'll create something special."

He's convinced the Blues have improved in 2019 and that the new coaching structure, led by Leon MacDonald, is the way forward.

"I've worked enough with coaches to know quality and they are quality coaches."

But the playing group is a different story.

"We need leaders, no doubt about that. I'm unashamedly going to encourage the organisation to look for talent outside of the region."

The franchise is rumoured to be chasing Beauden Barrett, but Mackinnon wouldn't comment on individuals.

Questions were also raised regarding CEO Michael Redman - a constant presence through a period of sustained underperformance since his arrival in 2013.

"Michael's a very good CEO," said Mackinnon. "I say that without hesitation.

"He has my full confidence. Will he be part of the review? Absolutely.

"It's a new board, but we're entitled to come under scrutiny as well. The whole organisation including the CEO have questions to be asked."

Redman's not solely responsible for on-field performance, but the buck stops with him.

"If there's sustainted failure in a particular area, Michael won't step away from saying 'hey, I've got take some accountability for that'.

"The question, though, is what has been done and what's been able to be done - particularly under the previous ownership structure - to fix those things?

"All I can say is - under our current structure - we've got the ability to fix them and we are." 

Off the field, Mackinnon's clear - there's room for improvement.  

"In terms of membership numbers, sponsorship that you're able to attract... is that where it should be for the dominant rugby franchise in the biggest city in New Zealand? No, not at all."

The coming weeks should determine what further changes are required to get the Blues back in shape.

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