Rugby: Lam lands Blues job

Auckland coach Pat Lam will coach the Blues for three years, the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and Blues franchise announced today.

Lam, 39, has coached Auckland since 2004, with his unbeaten Auckland side last year winning the Air New Zealand Cup and securing the Ranfurly Shield.

Lam said he felt it was time to put up his hand for the next challenge.

"I'm very proud of the achievements of the Auckland team and have relished my role as coach for the last four years. However, I have aspired to coach a team in the Rebel Sport Super 14, ideally the Blues. That opportunity has arrived and I'm delighted," he said in a statement.

The former All Black and Samoan international's four-year tenure with Auckland has included two championship titles plus one play-off spot. Prior to that he was assistant coach of Scotland for the 2003 World Cup.

NZRU general manager of professional rugby Neil Sorensen said Lam had a wide range of experience after coaching in Britain and in New Zealand.

Blues chief executive Andy Dalton said Lam was always going to be a strong candidate and was confident he's the right man to succeed Australian David Nucifora.

"Pat is an excellent coach with a very good understanding of New Zealand rugby and the way the professional environment works.

The board and I have no doubt he will embrace the challenge of stepping up to the Rebel Sport Super 14 level."

The Blues assistant coach's position as well as the Auckland job will be advertised this week.

Given the timing of Lam's appointment so close to the start of the Air New Zealand Cup, it has been agreed that Lam will hand over the Auckland coaching duties by the end of next month.

- NZPA

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