Embattled Blues head coach Pat Lam has reiterated his desire to lead the Blues out of their current mire and maintain his job with the franchise.
Lam’s side may have gone nine matches undefeated and reached the semi-final last year, however that seems but a distant memory as the Blues have slumped to six defeats in seven outings this season.
Many pundits are already turning their attention to who will coach the side next year, but Lam is determined to fight for his position and resurrect a disappointing season.
“Of course I do,” was Lam’s response when quizzed as to whether he wanted to continue coaching the side next year.
“But that is not in my control, my control is the here and now and I understand that. At the end of the day there will be a thorough review like there has every year, even when we’ve done well or during my time with Auckland.
“I’ll keep fighting and keep trying to do my best. This is my town but at the end of the day I can only focus on the fact that I’m in the job now and I’ve got to keep going.”
Currently sitting last on the New Zealand Conference ladder and second to last overall, the Blues’ hopes of reaching the finals have all but evaporated.
The loss of 2011 New Zealand Player of the Year Jerome Kaino along with his fellow All Blacks teammates Isaia Toeava and Anthony Boric to injury has hit the Blues hard, but they’re not about to throw the towel in or wave the white flag; it’s not in Lam’s or the team’s make-up.
Their reputations are on the line and they’re now playing for pride.
“We’ve just got to keep building, keep fighting and we won’t give in,” Lam said.
“I think that’s what you do when you’re in these situations and win or lose we front up and we keep trying to get better.
“Our reputation is on the line, and as I said after the Sharks game we’re all hurting because we know we are better than that so we’re playing for our reputations and our franchise, so for us to give up would be a huge disappointment.”
Following an emotional week for Lam where he was the subject of much vitriol on blogs, websites and talk back radio and spoke emotionally to the media about the effect racist comments had had on his family, Lam said it was also the most rewarding week of his career.
“Yes (it was the toughest week of my coaching career) but also the most rewarding,” he said.
“There’s rugby and then there’s family and the 48 hours after the incident reminded me of how blessed we are to live in this country, there are some wonderful people. I spent half the day after the (Sharks) game replying to the 200 odd emails I’d received from right around the country, people I don’t even know and also from around the world so there’s a lot of good people out there.”
In these trying times, Lam said it was great to be able to discuss things with Sir Graham Henry who was sympathetic to his plight given his own experiences following the 2001 Lions tour of Australia and the failed 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign.
“He came around to our home and spoke to my wife as well about what he and Raewyn went through and gave us a lot of encouragement.
“Before he even spoke to me about it I still took inspiration from what he’s done and what he’s been through and that’s what our game is. One point the other way (in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final) and it could have been completely different and he went through the same stuff.
“As we know any coach worth their pinch of salt has to go through these times and it’s what you do with those times and he certainly came through it.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Pat Lam and his troops who face a confident and physical Highlanders team at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Friday night (kick off 7.35pm).