Friday 24 November 2017

Pat Lam: We want big reaction after Brive low point

Pat Lam at a press conference at the Sportsground ahead of this weekend’s game. Photo: Sportsfile
Pat Lam at a press conference at the Sportsground ahead of this weekend’s game. Photo: Sportsfile

Pat Lam

We set a goal in the Challenge Cup to qualify for the quarter-finals and we should have achieved that goal with a win in France last week but with the disappointing performance, we're not in yet.

The simple equation now is that we need five points against Enisei tomorrow. That still doesn't guarantee it for us but it gives us the best possible chance.

We're back at the Sportsground and it's do or die for us in this competition. We've put what we feel is the strongest possible team out to win the game, but more importantly to win it by performing well.

We signed off the Brive game on Monday after coming back late on Sunday night. Unfortunately, it confirmed there were far more work-ons then positives this week and we know that's not good enough. All the stats showed that it was a poor performance but we knew that straight after the game.

One positive we took from that review is the realisation that we went over to a team like Brive who are sixth in the Top14 and have only been beaten once at home this season. It was our worst performance to date and yet we almost won the game. I think that shows how far we have come as a team and the level of our own expectations now.

We've overcome a lot of challenges already this season and it's helped us to build up a lot of resilience as a squad. But when you're looking at the recent games that we're losing by one score at the last minute, you realise very quickly the importance of the detail. It's all down to fine margins and to me that is a mental thing.

So this week, we've had to have a very honest look at ourselves and ask the tough questions. Are guys doing everything possible to prepare themselves? With the cold, wet weather and on a run of 14 consecutive games, have we become complacent in our individual preparation? From my one-on-one discussions with players, it's fair to say that no one is more disappointed in the performance than the guys themselves.

They are being very honest in the review of their game which has allowed them to not only know the problem, but more importantly the solution and plan to work on going forward.


I believe having self-awareness is the biggest tool for anyone's improvement, and as coaches it's vital the way we ask questions to ensure the player is able to recognise the problem and work out the solution. This gives the player ownership of his learnings and development.

Goal-kicking was obviously one of the areas that let us down last time out. Myself and Andre Bell had an honest discussion with every one of our goal-kickers in the squad. I used the example of Jonny Wilkinson who was one of the best. He only became the player/kicker he did because rain, hail or snow, he was out there doing what he had to do to get better.

The expectation at this level is that goal-kicking makes a difference for us chasing a game or extending the lead.

The goal-kicker will be chosen by Andre based on the work done during the week. When we started the season, our goal-kicking stats was over the 80 per cent mark and now it's down to just over 50 per cent which we know is just not good enough.

So we've challenged all the kickers and reminded them that it's a choice to be a goal-kicker and if choose to take on the responsibility its vital you put the required preparation into it. We hope to see an overall improvement in our stats for the rest of the season.

We know it's not going to be easy with Enisei tomorrow. When you look at way they played to beat both Brive and Newcastle, we know they are very good side who are very capable of beating us. It just shows that we cannot underestimate them and our own preparation will need to be spot on. If we allow them to play their own game, it will be a very tough day.

We're really happy to be back at the Sportsground after four weeks away and our supporters will play a huge part. We are determined to achieve our European ambitions and that means a win this weekend.

We are going to go all out to get the win and at least four tries, so it's set up to be a really entertaining game. We hope to have a packed out stadium to add to that atmosphere and we appreciate all the support.

Irish Independent

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