Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Rugby: Blues 'lacking team culture'

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan. Photo / Getty Images
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan. Photo / Getty Images

The Blues probably lack a genuine team culture and departing Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett failed to understand the region he represented, according to Massey rugby researcher Jeremy Hapeta.

Hapeta's latest project identified a strong connection between the champion Chiefs, their community and Maori heritage. It suggested old-style team values were still valuable in the professional era.

Hapeta says he was denied access to Sir John Kirwan's Blues. Personal ties persuaded the former Hurricanes development prop against analysing the Wellington-based franchise. He relied instead on observations, instincts and comparisons with the Chiefs to make these observations to the Herald.

"The Chiefs went back to their roots and I don't know if the Blues have done something like that," he said. "It looks like changing the jersey [using a Polynesian design] could be pretty superficial whereas there is real depth to what the Chiefs do, including things such as the whakapapa, the story behind their jersey. Maybe there is with the Blues but from the outside it doesn't look like they have that type of core.

"Despite Hammett's nickname being hammer, he didn't hit the nail on the head. He should have embraced the local landscape instead of trying to impose a Canterbury culture on the Hurricanes. They are very different. The Crusaders are disciplined while the Hurricanes' logo a couple of years ago was 'expect the unexpected'. He's got a lot of Pacific Island boys there operating to a Canterbury culture."

- NZ Herald

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