Saturday 17 February 2018

George Hook: Joe Schmidt's contract extension hastened Pat Lam's departure

Harry Clarke

George Hook believes that Joe Schmidt's decision to sign a two year extension to his Ireland contract was one of the factors that caused Pat Lam to depart Connacht for Bristol.

Schmidt will now coach Ireland up to the 2019 World Cup in Japan, while Lam will leave the western province at the end of this season to take up the head coach role with the English club.

Read more: Brendan Fanning: Pat Lam isn't taking a backward step by leaving Connacht - he may have landed the job of a lifetime

Today's announcement of Lam's departure came as a big surprise, but Hook thinks the writing was on the wall from the moment Schmidt's new deal was announced.

"Pat Lam would have looked at the extension of Joe Schmidt, and seen that there were no promotion prospects," the rugby pundit told

"He won the Pro12 against what I believe all the odds. Despite the way they play, he knows that will be hard to replicate.

"He knows that he is in charge of a province that gets the least amount of money and support from the IRFU. If he delivers an outstanding player like Robbie Henshaw, he knows that Henshaw will move to Leinster at the first available opportunity. In that sense, it's not a great job."

Read more: Luke Fitzgerald draws up his shortlist of potential new Connacht coaches

Bristol are set to give Lam plenty of money to spend on new recruits, as well as an increased salary, but Hook thinks that the Kiwi might not enjoy the same success at Bristol that he enjoyed in Connacht.

"There's not a certainty he can do it," Hook said.

"Different clubs and different chief executives make a huge difference. He had everything rolling for him in Galway. He had the support of the crowd and the support of Willie Ruane, who is an outstanding Chief Executive."

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