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Lam: 'I was left in the trenches'

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 11:05
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I didn't mind being out in the frontline... but it appears I've taken the final hit
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Outgoing Blues coach Pat Lam has suggested he was hung out to dry by the powers that be at the Auckland-based franchise.

Speaking to the media after the announcement that John Kirwan is the new head coach of the Blues, Lam revealed that he is yet to decide on his future.

However, Lam - who is now effectively out of a job - told the media to continue "scrutinising" the Blues hierarchy to see if Kirwan gets better support than he did.

He spoke of being 'left in the trenches' this season, as he battled to keep the team alive in the competition.

"It's always a battle and if I look at it in terms of being in the trenches and war, I sort of feel in my time here I've been out in the front line," Lam told a media scrum in Auckland.

"I've been out in the front line and taken shots left, right and centre and I sort of feel that this year in particular it's been the biggest war ever," he added.

"I didn't mind being out in the front and through all my time out there I protected this franchise, I protected the people in it, I protected the team, I protected the players. But it appears I've taken the final hit.

"The same panel gave me 87 per cent out of 100, which I was really proud of, last year, and I truly believe I'm a far better coach this year after what I've gone through. And more importantly I know that and the people that matter know that and that's what means more to me.

"I leave here with my head high and I just, again for JK, I want the board and Andy to give him everything he needs because, ultimately, this is my hometown, this is my team, no matter where I am in the world, no matter where I go, this is my team and I want it to be successful."

He urged the media to keep up the scrutiny on the franchise and the structure around Kirwan, which suggested he had been left exposed, but he refused to talk specifics.

Lam said one of his highlights was how every player lined up to hug him following the final match of the season in the weekend - a resounding 30-16 win over the Brumbies in Canberra.

He said some comments from captain Keven Mealamu were especially significant but he was reluctant to reveal them.

He had words of encouragement for the new coach, Kirwan, but also sounded a strong warning as his parting message.

"First and foremost I want to congratulate John Kirwan, he is another good Marist man and former teammate," said Lam.

"I spoke to him straight after I heard the news and wished him all of the best.

"I look at my last nine years in Auckland as Auckland and Blues coach and I am very proud of the successes that I've had, to be the only current Super Rugby coach to win two NPC titles.

"I look back at 2007 as a particular highlight, that to this day I am the only coach to win the Ranfurly Shield, the NPC title and go undefeated in the professional era.

"I am proud of the relationships that I've built up, particularly with the players, management and even you guys [the media].

"My biggest highlight was what turned out to be my last game, at the weekend.

"Not what happened on the field, that was great but we've done that through my time.

"But I went down after the game to say well done to the boys and I stood in the tunnel.

"As they came off wet and dirty, the first guy gave me a hug and said that was for you coach.

"Then I proceeded to see my whole team line up in single file rather than go to the changing room.

"Everyone gave me a hug and said a few words to me, I stood there right to the end and the last guy was Keven Mealamu and the words he gave me were pretty emotional.

"I look back with a lot of pride and I feel grateful for the time I've had and that's what means most to me."

"So I leave here with my head high and for JK, I want the board and Andy to give him everything he needs.

"Because ultimately, this is my home town, this is my team no matter where I am around the world.

"No matter where I go, this will always be my team and I want this team to be successful.

"I just plea that JK gets everything he needs, he's a good man."

Sources: Fairfax NZ News & APNZ

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