Blues' Pat Lam defiant about falling on sword
Under-siege Blues coach Pat Lam remains as defiant as he has been unsuccessful in a horror show of a Super Rugby season.
Lam told a media posse at Blues headquarters yesterday that he had still not thought about falling on his sword even as his team lurched from bad to worse during its worst campaign.
The coach confirmed he remained a principal figure in securing players for next year and beyond, even though his chances of being part of the franchise hang by a thread.
The bottom-placed Blues on Friday night sank to their seventh consecutive defeat and ninth in 10 matches when they were pummelled 35-19 by the Hurricanes.
This week they face fellow stragglers the Lions in a clear case of resistible force meeting moveable object – John Mitchell's Johannesburg-based outfit having lost eight straight themselves.
Asked if he had contemplated standing aside to let someone else take over, Lam said he had neither thought about it nor made any such offer to the Blues board.
But when someone wondered if it might not be best for the franchise, he replied: "Good question, that's probably what the board are thinking ... they haven't had those discussions. All I can do is work day to day and do my job to the best of my ability.
"If we had an absolute mutiny and things were falling apart, or if I'd lost the dressing-room ... I've been in those sort of environments as a player, and I'd know.
"I'm still here at the moment, and beyond this year it's not in my control. It's another thing I don't need to worry about."
But with Blues halfback Alby Mathewson having already raised concerns about who was making decisions around next year, Lam confirmed he remained a central part of that process.
"We have our contracts committee, and that's made up of the coaches, chief executive, [board chairman] Gary Whetton and [high-performance manager] Nick Sheppard.
" We have a good feeling for what we currently have, what's coming through, and what's on the market. It's the same as all the other franchises."
Lam also denied that a personnel "cleanout" was inevitable, even though he conceded that some of his players have proven short of the level this season.
"It's always a case-by-case situation, like anything. We're no different to the Chiefs – there are influences outside like Japan and Europe, and players all make decisions on what's best for them.
"What we're going through this year has no real impact on that process.
"Regardless of whether I'm here or not, I'm only part of the process, and you still do the job. That's why it's not just Pat Lam choosing the team for next year, it's a committee, and everyone has a say."
Lam, meanwhile, hoped to welcome back All Black prop Tony Woodcock for the wooden-spoon clash against the Lions, but skipper Keven Mealamu's own calf problems looked likely to keep him out at least another week.
Chris Lowrey (concussion) and George Moala (groin) were also likely absentees.
Both the All Blacks coaching crew and Graham Henry were around the Blues yesterday as part of scheduled visits, though quite what they're able to do to stem the torrent of defeats remains to be seen.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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