Pat Lam lands coaching job at Irish province
Former Auckland and Blues coach Pat Lam has been confirmed as the new head coach of Irish province Connacht.
Lam, who represented New Zealand in a tour match before going on to win 34 caps for Samoa, has accepted a two-year deal with the option to extend his stay at the Galway-based club.
The 44-year-old endured a torrid final Super Rugby season in 2012 with the Blues, who finished 12th. Lam only reached the playoffs once in his four seasons at the helm of the Auckland franchise.
He reapplied for the top job at the Blues in July but was replaced by John Kirwan.
While this will not be Lam's first foray into European club rugby - he won the Heineken Cup with Northampton in 2000 - he will have his work cut out with his new side which is regarded as the "feeder" Irish province for Euro-giants Munster, Leinster and Ulster.
It is understood that Lam will travel to Ireland in April to assist outgoing Connacht coach and ex-Ireland fly half Eric Elwood, for the final games of his new side's domestic season in the Rabo Direct Pro12. Connacht has already been eliminated from this season's Heineken Cup.
Speaking earlier this week Lam was looking forward to the new challenge on Ireland's west coast.
"I was impressed by the Board's vision for Connacht and the fighting spirit of the team and supporters to persevere against all the odds," Lam said.
"My family and I are truly blessed to have another opportunity to be part of a new community and country and we are looking forward to the exciting challenge ahead at Connacht."