The Blues are the immediate focus but the NZRU has set itself the wider task of fixing rugby in Auckland.

Applications have closed for the next coach of the Super 15 franchise with NZRU chief executive Steve Tew confident a panel will have a handful of strong contenders to evaluate.

Former All Blacks John Kirwan and Wayne Shelford have applied, while current coach Pat Lam has confirmed he wants to continue his work of the last four seasons.

Tew indicated there would be a wider review of the Blues and problems which have riven the organisation for some time as well as a broader analysis of rugby in the Super City.


"There are a whole lot of things we have to get our heads around and we will be doing some very careful thinking about how we win Auckland, like most businesses in this country need to," he said.

"I don't want in any way to shy away from the fact that we have challenges for rugby in that broader metropolitan area, but we are no different from anyone else in this country. If you don't get Auckland right then you have some real issues."

The Blues' best finish since they last won the Super rugby title in 2003 has been fourth. In that time the franchise has been coached by Peter Sloane, David Nucifora and Pat Lam, while the franchise had David White as its chief executive for two seasons then Andy Dalton for the past seven years.

Tew said his staff had spent a considerable amount of time inside each of the New Zealand franchises and those experiences would form part of a wider inspection.

High-performance coach Don Tricker, the All Black coaches and former supremo Graham Henry have spent time with the franchises and their information would be fed into the review process.

The NZRU will have several people on the coaching appointments panel with officials from the Blues' region.

A decision is expected late next month.

While the Blues await that decision, the franchise has been contracting players for next season.


Tew said that situation was not ideal but the Blues needed to fill their playing roster otherwise players would be taken by other teams, or leave New Zealand for overseas deals.

It was like the All Blacks. Their coaches were only contracted to 2013 and the NZRU contracting team was trying to convince some players to go through to the next World Cup. It became a judgement and balancing act.

The Herald understands about 10 of the current squad are departing this year, while there must be doubts about the quality of a number of other players.

Tew believed the Blues' region should be a net exporter of rugby talent as they were in the 1990s and that was more of an issue for the NZRU rather than their ability to attract players to the region.

"There is no question we see Auckland as an important part of our future strategy," he said.

"We haven't shared with you the details of that strategic thinking but Auckland has been identified as a goal; it is not the Blues or Auckland Rugby Union, it is the wider Auckland city."


There was competition for athletes, finance and interest from other codes like the Warriors and Breakers.

"You have got [a situation where] 90 per cent of New Zealand's population growth in the next 15 years is going to be in Auckland and a high percentage of that is going to be Pacific Island or Asian," Tew said.