Rugby: Lam cagey about Blues interview

By Michael Brown

Pat Lam will be interviewed on Friday about the Blues' coaching job but wasn't giving any indications today what he might say to convince the board to give him another tenure.

Lam is on the Blues shortlist for the top job along with John Kirwan and Kieran Crowley. Sharks' coach John Plumtree was also reportedly on that list but denied that today, saying he had one more year on his Sharks contract and no inclination to break it.

"I'm definitely unavailable at this stage," Plumtree told Radio Sport. "I'm still contracted here."

Lam has been Blues' coach since 2009 and it's difficult to imagine he will be given another stint after a wretched season that has seen his side win only three games in 15.

The Blues have been hit hard by injuries - the side named today to face the Brumbies on Saturday was shorn of 16 players from his original squad - but there have been serious shortcomings in other aspects of their campaign and a fresh voice is needed.

Lam was careful with his words today, sidestepping a number of lines of enquiry about his future: who he might appoint as his assistants if he was successful, whether he would be happy to be an assistant coach and even about a rough figure on how many players are contracted for next season.

"It's a big 'if'. You started the question with an 'if' and it's out of my control," he said to one quizzical reporter.

"This is not the interview now, the interview is on Friday," he said to another.

"What I can control is this week. At this stage I have the job for the weekend and we will see what happens after that."

One thing is certain - the Blues will end their campaign on Saturday against a Brumbies side sitting atop the Australian conference. It might look a hopeless cause, and the Blues will start as underdogs, but the Australian conference is easily the weakest in the competition and the Brumbies haven't beaten anyone inside the top seven on the overall ladder.

The Blues go into the match after a morale-boosting 32-9 win over a dreadful Western Force outfit and they will field their first-choice front row for only the third time this season with the return of prop Charlie Faumuina, who is back after a two-month absence with a calf injury.

Faumuina is one of four personnel or positional changes to the side that started against the Force. Rene Ranger, who would have played his 50th game for the Blues, is missing with a groin strain and his place will be taken by Hadleigh Parkes. Steven Luatua shifts into lock and Chris Lowrey will take his place on the blindside flank.

Lam will join the team on Friday after his interview and, far from being thankful the end of the Super Rugby season is in sight, is primed for this weekend's game.

"I'm excited," he said. "I always am. It's been challenging [this season] but that's what makes who you are. It's no more challenging than other things in my life. Everyone here has had challenges. Hopefully it makes people stronger for it.

"There are always plenty of options," he added, saying results this season had not hurt his employment opportunities elsewhere.

"Professional coaches always get jobs. This is the job I have and this is the job I need to do and that's the one I am focused on. Once I have no job, I will find another job. It's been my life. I have always been employed."

It just remains to be seen who his next employer will be.

Blues side to play the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday (5.30pm): Charles Piutau, Lachie Munro, Francis Saili, Ma'a Nonu, Hadleigh Parkes, Michael Hobbs, Piri Weepu, Luke Braid, Daniel Braid, Chris Lowrey, Steven Luatua, Liaki Moli, Charlie Faumuina, Keven Mealamu (c), Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tom McCartney, Tevita Mailau, Andrew Van der Heijden, Peter Saili, Alby Mathewson, Orene Ai'i, Sherwin Stowers.

- APNZ

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