Wednesday 24 April 2019

Pat Lam: We could and should have won in Coventry last weekend

Caolin Blade of Connacht following the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 3 match between Wasps and Connacht at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Caolin Blade of Connacht following the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 3 match between Wasps and Connacht at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Pat Lam

With the injuries stacking up again, this week was all about mental toughness as we prepare for the visit of Wasps tomorrow.

With sore bodies from the week before coupled with the travel and a six-day turnaround, we were limited to just one main pitch session, which took place yesterday.

Earlier in the week, our big focus was on our mental preparation and clarity on our plan. Whether it was meetings in the classroom or walk through of the maps and game-plan, we were constantly doing as much work as we could without putting too much extra physical pressure on the players.

DEFLATED

While we were affected by injuries last Sunday, particularly in the backline, we were extremely disappointed and deflated after the loss.

There was a real sense of frustration that we got nothing out of the game.

Coming in on Tuesday morning for the video review, it wasn't about pointing the finger but highlighting the opportunities we missed and the opportunities we gave them. We had to understand those lessons before we could move on to the next job.

We were underdogs and people might have expected us to lose over there. But we don't come off the pitch thinking 'oh we tried our best'. We prepared well and we really believed we had the game-plan to turn them over so we were very annoyed that we didn't execute.

We came away thinking we could have and should have won that game.

But the most important thing is that we understand what went wrong, why it went wrong and how we can improve.

That happens through asking the right questions and raising the individual player's self-awareness on why they made an error.

Was it because you lifted your head up at the wrong time or you didn't present the ball properly?

When you understand the why, you can go about fixing it. There was a good effort across the board and the heart was there. No-one goes out to make mistakes but we also understand that there are consequences when we do make them.

We showed enough at times in Coventry to give us confidence going into the next round.

On the back of this week's work, if we can improve in areas like the lineout, being more clinical in the opposition 22, and cutting out the system errors in defence, we have a real chance. It takes everyone executing their role to make sure we can function and that's always been the way we operate.

Tomorrow's game is massively important in the context of our European ambitions. We win this game and we're back at the top of the pool and in a really good place after four rounds.

We expect Wasps to be even better this week than they were five days ago. They have huge depth and quality in their squad so we envisage some team changes from them to freshen things up.

Unfortunately we're not in the position to rotate players but we've been in this position before with injuries and challenges, so we just have to make the most of it.

Wasps will be full of confidence coming over here on the back of the win but many of them won't have been to the Sportsground before. I'm sure they've heard or read about the atmosphere and the fact the game has been sold out for some time highlights the level of excitement around this fixture. The crowd will be a huge boost for us.

The amount of Connacht supporters that were over in Coventry was really impressive. At times, it felt like a home game with the noise from our fans, and to hear the Fields of Athenry ringing around the Ricoh Arena made us very proud.

I know the players were very appreciative of the support and they are determined to put in a performance our fans and province can be proud of.

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