July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Former All Blacks winger John Kirwan was appointed as head coach of the Blues Super Rugby team on a two-year contract, the New Zealand Rugby Union said.
Kirwan, 47, replaces Pat Lam as coach of the Auckland-based franchise, which finished bottom of the New Zealand Conference last weekend after winning four of its 16 regular-season games.
Kirwan, who played 63 Tests for New Zealand before coaching the Italy and Japan national teams, will take over a squad that finished 12th in the Super Rugby standings, the Blues’ worst placing in the 17 editions of southern hemisphere rugby’s top provincial competition.
“It’s been a tough season,” Blues Chairman Gary Whetton said in a statement. “Our supporters expect the team to play winning rugby, as we all do. The challenge is clearly laid down for John and we look forward to seeing positive results.”
The Blues, whose roster includes 2011 World Cup-winning All Blacks Tony Woodcock, Piri Weepu, Ma’a Nonu and Keven Mealamu, won the most recent of their three southern hemisphere championships in 2003. They reached the semifinals last year.
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