Saturday 19 August 2017

Gutted after last week's low - it can't be repeated

Pat Lam with his wife Stephanie and daughter Bethany after the defeat to Scarlets. Photo: Sportsfile
Pat Lam with his wife Stephanie and daughter Bethany after the defeat to Scarlets. Photo: Sportsfile

Pat Lam

We were extremely disappointed after the Scarlets game last weekend. We felt it was by far our worst performance in the past three years.

It can be easy to come out with a statement like that in the immediate aftermath of the game.

But when we went back and reviewed it over the weekend and on Monday morning, the video evidence and stats backed up that it was unacceptable in terms of the high standards we have set for ourselves at the Sportsground.

We were not happy at half time and there was a bit of a response after the break but at that stage we were 22-3 down and just trying to chase the game.

We pride ourselves on teamwork and working hard, which is why we were so gutted after last weekend; it just wasn't what we were used to.

While we've identified what went wrong for us and why, the only thing that matters now is what we do tomorrow.

We did the review on Monday, took the lessons from it and immediately moved on to a positive training week in preparation for Munster.

In the final round of the Pro12 we are up against Munster in a huge derby game - a game that is always full of excitement.

For us, it's a great opportunity to regain our form and also a chance for players to put their hands up as we build towards the play off in two weeks' time.

Munster are back playing with the passion and fire that they were famous for and they are certainly fighting for a common cause.

Tough

They've lost just once since Round 6, which is pretty impressive, and we know we face a tough challenge tomorrow afternoon.

Last year's win at Thomond Park was our first there in 29 years, which highlights the difficulty of going there.

While Munster have their home semi-final secured, their players will be fighting so hard for a place in that knockout game.

We have players with the same determination, it's just a different prize for us with Champions Cup qualification on the line.

It's highly likely that we'll be going to England on the weekend of May 20 to face either Harlequins, Northampton or Gloucester and all of them are really exciting prospects.

We'll have a clearer idea in the next few weeks and we'll prepare accordingly. What's great about that draw is that if we win, we'll be coming back for one more game at the Sportsground and I'd absolutely love that, particularly for our supporters.

We had a bit of a send-off for the departing players and coaches last weekend and I really appreciated all the well-wishes.

It was hugely humbling that everyone stayed on after the disappointing result and in awful conditions to wish us well.

After the game, I was also invited in to the Clan Bar to be inducted in to the Connacht Clan Hall of Fame and that was a huge honour.

The supporters have been a huge part of my time here and I'm massively proud to be included in that list with a lot of great people involved in the province.

I'll be having a very early night tonight before we head down to Limerick tomorrow.

At 4am I'll once again take part in the Darkness Into Light 5k walk with family, friends and neighbours out in Oranmore. Pieta House is a charity partner of Connacht Rugby but also a cause I feel very strongly about.

This is their flagship event with over 150 events taking place across four continents to raise awareness for mental health and suicide and help keep Pieta's life-saving services free and available.

Just last week, I received a very emotional and well-written letter from a young Connacht fan. In it, he told of how he was in a dark place and contemplating suicide just a year ago but came out the other side mainly due to the inspiration and enjoyment he gained from our success and leadership on the pitch.

We are all about inspiring our community through rugby success and that story just highlighted the important influence we can have as a team.

It was emotional meeting this brave young man at the game last weekend and I'll be thinking of him and others when I walk for Pieta House and I hope anyone who can will join in and help raise awareness for such an important issue in our world today.

Irish Independent

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