Rugby: Lam calls the shots

By Wynne Gray

New Blues coach Pat Lam has a three-step mantra he will take into next season as he searches for the right mix to refuel the franchise's early triumphs.

Lam was appointed to the Blues yesterday after a coaching career which has included two national championship titles with Auckland and an assistant role with Scotland at the 2003 World Cup.

The 39-year-old former All Black and Manu Samoa looseforward will continue to coach Auckland until the end of August as his provincial successor and Super 14 staff are decided.

Lam was in Wellington yesterday when his three-year Blues announcement was made, taking part in a high performance coaching course with a number of other familiar faces like new American and former Wallaby assistant coach Scott Johnson.

The course runs through the weekend and takes in the All Blacks test against the Springboks but Lam will return to Auckland to be at prop Saimone Taumoepeau's wedding.

During his coaching career, Lam said he had learned an enormous amount but felt there were three parts to setting the platform for the next Blues campaign.

"First, there has to be a happy environment, then there has to be a passion about leadership mixed in with a game plan to suit the modern player and his skills," Lam said. "It has taken me four years with Auckland to sort through that stuff and next year with the Blues, there are any number of good people and high performance coaches in the region who can help and be involved.

"I want to emulate some of the success the Blues had early under Graham Henry, I want to work to make this franchise very strong."

"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 Super 14, ideally the Blues. That opportunity has arrived and I'm delighted," Lam said.

"This is something I have wanted for a while, but like a player you have to take it step by step. I am proud of what we have done at Auckland, we have made a good fist of it but now this opportunity has presented itself."

Lam succeeds David Nucifora and said his aim would be to build a multi-dimensional team of skilled players, ones he would initially look to choose from the region's Northland, North Harbour and Auckland partners.

Since winning the first two Super 12 titles in 1996 and 1997, the Blues have won just once more, in 2003. They narrowly missed the semifinals this year and are widely considered underachievers given their resources and giant player base.

- NZ Herald

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