Pat Lam is a resilient character but even he has his limits and the Blues coach twice broke down as he explained his anger and sadness at racial theories doing the rounds about the poor form of his side.
The pressure has been mounting for weeks as the Blues have stumbled to a one-win, five-loss record. Lam has been stoic throughout but it certainly told yesterday when he fronted a large media contingent.
Lam emphasised he was happy for the media to have their views on the shortcomings of his team. But the proud Samoan who also played for the All Blacks made it clear he wasn't prepared to tolerate the racist remarks that have invaded internet message boards and talkback radio.
Lam oversees a squad that has 22 Maori and Pacific Island players in his first choice 29.
"It's sad really, it really is. We totally accept the criticism that we get when we don't perform. But it's the racist people, the social media and talkback, where people say things that are pretty offensive.
"The question about the racial stuff is what I'm upset about.
"It's just sad that we live in a country that has that, but it's just a minority and I know that."
Lam had to gather himself when he spoke about the toll that sort of talk was having on his family, particularly his parents.
"It's different when it's a racial thing. The emotion is about my parents," he said, stepping back to gather himself.
"For me it's a job. I'm enjoying the job and I enjoy the fact that as a team we come together and are working hard to get out of this adversity.
"When I think about my parents and the tough times they went through to be the people they are that's what I am, that's what I'm working to do with this team."
The bulk of his current squad had taken the Blues to last year's playoffs and eight of them, including five Maori and island players, had helped the All Blacks win the World Cup.
"I feel for all the guys in the team, Keven Mealamu and his family, and all the boys that have island or Maori backgrounds."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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