Sunday 15 December 2019

'We're in the media so it's on us to remember that': Luke Fitzgerald has a warning ahead of Pat Lam's Connacht exit

The Left Wing

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Results have been mixed out west since Pat Lam announced that he will be leaving Connacht at the end of the season to take over at Bristol.

A huge European win over Wasps has been followed by a pair of festive derby defeats to Ulster and Munster, but the Pro12 champions are still in a promising position in the Champions Cup and Lam will leave behind a magnificent legacy of attacking rugby when he steps away from the province at the season's end.

Read more: The Left Wing: 'They won't be happy in Munster' - Luke Fitzgerald chooses his Irish back row

The biggest challenge facing Connacht is picking a replacement for their top class coach - a decision that could well define whether the team's success was a one-off or something that can be sustained over the next few years.

Connacht have yet to make any announcement on Lam's successor, but Luke Fitzgerald thinks that when they do, it will be worth remembering Joe Schmidt's start to his Leinster reign when evaluating the new man.

The current Ireland boss endured a rocky opening few games in the Pro12 in his inaugural season, causing some pundits and media members to question his appointment, before Schmidt's team showed their true potential at the start of their Heineken Cup campaign.

Speaking on the New Year's Eve Facebook Live edition of The Left Wing, Fitzgerald said that certain media members should remember their knee-jerk reaction to Schmidt's early struggles when analysing Connacht next season.

Read more: 'The fourth official got it wrong at the end': Pat Lam angered by late sin bin controversy in Munster defeat

"We're in the media so it is probably on us to remember that rather than the supporters, because it was the media that was writing Joe Schmidt off," Fitzgerald said.

"It will take time to bed in new ideas but I'm not sure that they need to change too much of what Connacht are doing well. It is a challenge, you have to try and hit the ground running. You always want to put your own stamp on things because if it is you that is going to be fired, I would want to be going out on my own sword and not relying too much on someone else's ideas."

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