“The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.”
Those words, spoken by world renowned former Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi, will certainly resonate with the Blues players as they prepare for Friday’s big showdown with the Queensland Reds.
The Blues may have fallen to new depths this season with just one win in their last eight outings as they sit at the bottom of the Investec Super Rugby ladder, but there can be no denying the desire and determination of the team to rise and put an end to their losing streak.
ANZAC day on Wednesday was an apt reminder for head coach Pat Lam and the rest of the team about never giving in, despite the adversity they currently face.
“You work hard and take a knock but it’s what you do when you get knocked down that counts. It’s about getting up again and certainly we’ve been knocked down a few times this season,” Lam said.
“It’s appropriate it was ANZAC day earlier in the week and reading stories about what people went through and the sacrifices they made was incredibly inspiring. They never surrendered and never gave in, regardless of the result and that’s certainly where we’re at at the moment. No matter where we are in this competition it’s about never giving in and never surrendering.”
The Blues have come so close to ending their disappointing run of losses, pushing the Sharks all the way at Eden Park in round eight before narrowly missing out on a victory against the Highlanders in Dunedin last week.
In both matches the Blues were dealt some heartbreaking decisions and the rub of the green just did not go their way, but Lam knows his side is just one win away from turning around their fortunes.
As always, Lam has looked to take the positives out of the situation currently confronting the team, and knows his players will be stronger for it.
“It’s character building for the team and for the players. Some of them haven’t been in this situation before and some have, and even when some have they’ve been in environments that have fallen apart,” Lam said.
“What I’m looking around and seeing is a real dogged determination by all these guys to take learnings every day out of the situation we’re in. Out of this situation we’re going to be better players and better people and while it’s hard for not only ourselves and our supporters, like in life you’ve got to make the most of whatever situation you’re in.”
The challenges don’t cease for the Blues as they face 2011 Super Rugby Champions the Queensland Reds on Friday, buoyed by the return of Wallabies Digby Ioane and Anthony Faingaa.
“It’s fair to say they’ve been up and down but they’re still right in it and we know last year they beat us twice, both times over there. There’s quality in their team and there are two teams desperate to get a win so it’s going to be a good ANZAC battle,” Lam said.
“I know it’s their first time playing a New Zealand team this year and certainly it’s a game both teams are looking forward to. We were in the semi-final last time we played and it’s good to be able to play them on our home ground.”
World Cup winning All Black halfback Piri Weepu has been named to start the match but Tony Woodcock has been ruled out with a calf injury.
Benson Stanley and Chris Lowrey have both played every minute for the Blues this season and have been given a deserved reprieve on the bench, with Rudi Wulf overcoming a shoulder injury to slot in on the wing and Daniel Braid starting at openside flanker.