Blues coach Pat Lam, planning for a “massive” challenge against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, says his team will be happy with a win of any description.
Lam, who said that he was “pleased” that his team launched their season with a 25-19 bonus-point win against the Western Force at the weekend, said he will adjust his tactics according to the conditions.
Despite showing glimpses of their ability to play an expansive game when they scored 17 unanswered points in 14 minutes after the half-time break, Lam said his team may not go for an all attacking game at Loftus Versfeld this week.
Rugby 365′s Jan De Koning reports that the two factors that may have the biggest influence on his team’s approach – apart from the Bulls’ obvious ability – are the heat (it’s a late afternoon kick-off) and the altitude.
“We have a massive challenge this week going to Pretoria, playing at altitude and I don’t think the Blues have won there for a while,” Lam said, in a teleconference call from Perth, about his team’s one win from five visits to Loftus – the only success coming in 2003.
“And it is a 5-’o-clock [17.00 local time] kick-off and we will certainly have the heat and the altitude,” the Blues coach added.
“It is important that the game plan we have caters for those sort of challenges ahead.”
Lam added that the key thing is that his team has to be comfortable to be able to adjust their game accordingly, depending on who they are playing – not only for game to game, but minute to minute.
“With the heat [in Perth] we thought that we needed to play a bit more territory. As it turned out at half-time we realised we needed o keep the ball more in hand.
“We did that straight after half-time and the boys put together some good phases for Justin Collins’ try.
“The way we want to play will obviously change depending on who we play,” Lam added.
He also added that playing an expansive game to chase bonus points may not be the way to go.
“You have to get as many points as you can, but I’m happy to try and get four and if there’s a bonus [point] we’ll be pleased,” Lam said.
He also praised the character shown by his side to come back from being down 3-14 and go on to score 22 unanswered points – 17 of those in a 14-minute period after the break – and eventually win 25-19.
Lam was particularly impressed with the leadership skills shown by the more experienced players in inspiring their younger teammates.
“The reason I’m most pleased [with the win] is the fact that the senior players are doing a great job in bringing these [younger] guys together and it’s showing out there on the field, they led the way and the young guys brought a lot of energy to it.
“I’m extremely proud of the boys. There was a lot of character shown.
“We went into the changing rooms at half-time and we were down 14-8 and we knew we had let in a couple of soft tries and we hadn’t taken some of our opportunities.
“Our kicking wasn’t as accurate as we would have liked but the boys spoke about all those things at half-time and talked about belief in the game plan and belief in each other.
“We then managed to hold onto possession a lot better and keep the ball and apply some pressure.”
With the Blues missing key players Jerome Kaino, Joe Rokocoko, Ali Williams and Rudi Wulf, the pressure was put on several younger players who played extremely well and helped carry their team to a well-earned victory.
Of the seven debutants named in the side, No.8 Chris Lowrey was the pick of the new-comers and had the perfect start to his Super Rugby career.
“There were a lot of boys playing their first game for the Blues and Chris [Lowrey] is going from strength to strength,” said Lam.
“There’s been some great work in bringing these guys together and it’s showing out there on the field.
“They [the older players] led the way and the young guys put a lot of energy into it.”Tweet