Blair: Blame Kiwis leadership group for World Cup shocker

NEW Zealand captain Adam Blair says the Kiwis leadership group players may not have done their jobs properly during last year’s failed World Cup campaign.

The 2008 tournament winners became the first tier one side to lose to a developing league nation when they fell to Tonga – and then did it again just a week later, eliminated from the tournament at the quarter-final stage by Fiji.

“Maybe the leadership group including myself, weren’t strong enough and didn’t show that enough throughout the tournament,” Blair told the New Zealand Herald On Sunday.

“And maybe we didn’t grab the young group and bring them in close enough so that they understood who we are and what we want from each other.

“David (Kidwell, coach)put a lot of faith in the leadership group to try to control the team and run things the way we wanted to, with obviously input from him. So maybe we weren’t strong enough.”

Former Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle is leading a review into the performance of the team and what should be done. Blair favours Kidwell being retained as long as he has the right support staff.

“I think he should stay on with the right people around him,” Blair is quoted as saying.

“If you get some good people that complement his weaknesses and make his strengths better, then I think that he’s the right person for the job.

“That 15 to 20 minute period after halftime against Tonga, if we controlled the game and played the way we wanted to like we did in the first half, everyone would have been talking about Australia and New Zealand in the final.

“We came up against a [Fiji] side that was desperate to do something special and had nothing to lose but everything to gain.

“We were the same, but we didn’t perform. Maybe they wanted it more than us and it showed during the tough times on the field, they were hungrier in those moments.

” I watched them play [the Kangaroos] the following week and if we were to control our sets and hold the ball it could have been a different story.

“So if I reflect on anything, it’s those pivotal moments in the Tongan game and our poor execution and handling errors that let us down against Fiji.”

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