Deans backs Lam for Blues job



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Crusaders coach Robbie Deans has given an endorsement to Pat Lam as the Auckland coach embarks on his battle to snare the Blues job for next season.

Deans, who previously saw the potential in Colin Cooper and Vern Cotter and gave their careers a huge lift up by appointing them as assistants, says Lam is a coach he’s got huge admiration for.

“He’s a student of the game,” Deans told The Sun-Herald.

“He had a tough introduction to the NPC in year one but he bounced straight back.”

Deans was so impressed with Lam that when he applied for the All Blacks’ head coach job last year he told the NZRU he wanted Lam to be his assistant.

“Pat’s a quality bloke and he obviously relates very well with his people up there,” Deans said.

“He’s been patient. He hasn’t been in a hurry to coach at that (Super 14) level and has stated previously that he didn’t feel he’s ready. But he’s obviously indicated now that he’s keen.

“You need to be enthusiastic about it because it’s not an easy cauldron.”

Deans who will step down from coaching the Cruisaders to become Wallabies coach next month said it isn’t easy to make the jump up from provincial to Super rugby and added that there’s nowhere to hide in the franchise-based competition.

“First and foremost it’s international as opposed to domestic, so you’re coming up against international players week in, week out and it’s relentless to the very end.

“Whereas in the NPC some teams can probably enter a game at 80 percent and get away with it. Here, you just can’t do that.”

Blues CEO Andy Dalton said last week he expected the new head coach to replace David Nucifora to be appointed in July.

But the NZRU who make the appointment would be wise to make the process much quicker as Lam’s name has been mentioned in connection with the vacancy at Llanelli Scarlets after they sacked Lyn Jones.

Former All Blacks coach Laurie Mains has blasted David Nucifora’s public backing of Greg Cooper for the Blues’ coaching job.

Mains is adamant the Blues job should be handed to Pat Lam.

Mains said Nucifora’s ramblings were ridiculous given the success Pat Lam has had with the Auckland team in the Air New Zealand Cup.

“Pat Lam had been able to get some fantastic performances out of both individuals in his team and his team as a whole when it has mattered. He clearly should be the frontrunner.”

Mains also hit out at the lack of urgency being shown by the NZRU to secure Lam’s long-term future in New Zealand.

The NZRU is not expected to decide on the Blues coaching job until July, ample time for international clubs to snap up New Zealand’s hottest coaching property.

“There needs to be more urgency, otherwise they will end up in a similar situation that they found themselves in with Warren Gatland,” Mains said.

“He waited around for an opportunity, the NZRU never gave him one and now he’s coaching Wales.

“Lam has produced the goods for Auckland. It would be an absolutely tragedy if someone else snaps him up before the NZRU offered him the Super 14 job.

“The NZRU clearly needs to be looking for the next All Blacks coach for a couple of years time and Pat Lam is a performer.

“We need to keep as many of those potential contenders as possible for that All Blacks position coaching in the Super 14.

“Cooper was a failure as a coach at the Highlanders. He’s been a failure as the backs coach at the Blues.

“There is no comparison between him and Lam.”

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