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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
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Lam 'begged' skills coach Ellis not to leave Connacht last year

Now the skills coach returns to New Zealand with the head coach’s blessing.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Pat Lam says the outgoing Dave Ellis made a decision to leave Galway over a year ago, but now departs with the Samoan’s ‘blessing’ after agreeing to stay on for what turned out to be a historical title-winning season.

Ellis was last night announced as the Auckland Blues’ new skills coach, taking up a position in Tana Umaga’s backroom team on the back of some tremendous work done with Connacht over the last three years.

“When I first came over here skills was the area I wanted to focus on. We set up the skills programme and needed someone to drive it. Dave was the guy I had come in,” Lam said at the Champions Cup launch in Dublin today.

“He hadn’t been involved in professional rugby. He’s done a great job, he’s been fantastic.

At the end of last year he and his wife said they’d leave. I begged him and asked to give me one more season. He relented and said: ‘okay, I’ll do one more season.’”

Ellis will remain coaching with Connacht right up until the end of 2016, with Lam pointing to the New Year’s Eve fixture against Munster as his coach’s final appointment before heading south.

The process of recruiting a replacement for the Kiwi has already begun, but rather than lament Ellis’ exit, Lam pointed out the positive side of the fact that Connacht’s success has put all of his personnel in high demand.

“The beauty of what happened last year – as well as giving players opportunities – the Blues came after him to be skills coach.

“He talked to me about it before. I said: ‘Mate, it’s a great opportunity. Not only to take your family home, but to go back and get  into Super Rugby’.

“He has my blessing.”

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Archive>> Tennis balls to pitbulls: How Lam and Ellis made Connacht skills the envy of everyone

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Sean Farrell

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