Each week, former All Black lock Ian Jones answers readers' questions on the state of rugby.
What do you think is the crux of the problem at the Blues? Is it coaching, is it the franchise structure and leadership, or is it the players?
Evan, I'm not directly involved with the Blues but when any team or organisation is under pressure everyone is accountable and needs to take responsibility. The coaching staff should question some of their selections but, more importantly, ensure the players understand their individual roles within the structure. I tend to think some are drifting away from what they are tasked to do.
The leaders should also look at the environment they have created and ask if it is one of excellence where standards and professional responsibilities are maintained and no compromises are made.
If the Blues return from SA with no wins from four games, is Lam's time up? But more to the point, who could fill this void either part way through this year, or the next?
Pat Lam will not, nor should not, be sacked upon the team's return from South Africa, regardless of the results. Whilst it hasn't been a great start, and bitterly disappointing for fans, this team does have the talent to turn things around. Pat is only one cog in the wheel, with outstanding values, but must lead the way for his troops to follow.
Kamo, can you please tell me why the Blues insist on playing a hooker, Tom McCartney, at prop? Surely it is an indictment on NZ rugby when the largest franchise has to convert a hooker into a starting prop.
Cheers Graye AllnutGreat question, Graye, and one that should be asked around selection, like why is the world's best No 6 playing at No 8? Tony Woodcock's decision to take an additional month off compounded by Charlie Faumuina's injury has forced Pat's hand a bit as he looks for experience up front. At this level however, it is specialists in their positions who would serve you best.
What are some of the key aspects of success, that you see in the modern game and the one you played in? What traits do the Lomus and the McCaws have in common?
Regards, Michael Kelly
In my opinion, there are no differences between sporting success on the field today, during my era and before that. The key traits for me that all the greats have had, is a passion for the game, discipline in their life and a no compromise, work hard attitude. Plain and simple.
There are no short cuts to greatness. If there was, we would all be All Blacks.
An indirect rugby question: Can you tell us why so many rugby players, not just in NZ, are sporting big, shaggy beards?
Thanks, Larissa and Steve
Individuality guys - some call it style, maybe fashion and possibly hip with the look right now. Others like you and I just need to bite our tongues, roll the eyes and hope they play better than they look.
Is "going through a rebuilding phase" the most overused excuse in rugby? How does a team avoid the 'boom and bust' cycle to develop a dynasty like the Crusaders or the NRL's Broncos?
Best wishes, Thomas Mitchell (still a North Harbour supporter)
Great organisations seem to have had consistency at the helm. Think Manchester United, the Crusaders and the Broncos, which should be a great lesson for those going through the "rebuilding phase". Consistency of standards breeds an expectation of success.
Those great sides have also all had legacy players - Reuben Thorne, Darren Lockyer and Brad Thorn - that the teams have been built around. Players of that ilk don't compromise and that's what creates that winning culture.