'It's realistic' - Pat Lam targets back-to-back Pro12 titles for Connacht

The western province’s head coach is already thinking of next season.

Murray Kinsella reports from Murrayfield

PAT LAM HAS targeted another Guinness Pro12 title next season after his side secured their first-ever trophy with a 20-10 win over Leinster in the 2016 decider in Edinburgh.

Pat Lam before the match Lam has masterminded Connacht's rise to Pro12 glory. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Connacht had never before lifted silverware in their 130-year history, but a stunning attacking performance at Murrayfield saw them convincingly overcome favourites Leinster.

With the sound of Connacht fans singing ‘The Fields of Athenry’ filtering in from outside Murrayfield after the victory, head coach Lam outlined that this is only the beginning of the western province’s ambition.

“We’ve got a plan and we’re back [for pre-season] on June the 30th,” said Lam. “I’ve already set the goals for next year. Being realistic, we’ve got to go defend this and go back-to-back in the Pro12. It’s realistic for us to try and win it again.

“The second one is I want to try and get into the knock-out stages of the Champions Cup. I’ll put that out there now because come June the 30th, we start the work again. We continue what we’re building.

That’s the key. You set goals but you work every day to achieve them.”

Lam, like his captain John Muldoon, expressed pride and joy at Connacht’s remarkable achievements this season, stating that his only period of worry today was when his side began to kick the ball early in the second half, inviting Leinster back into the game.

Lam said he has never doubted the way in which Connacht have gone about earning this glory, particularly their ambitious approach to attack.

“Not at all. I always like to think with the end in mind and then work my way back. I’ve said many times that I want us to be a team that can go through the opposition team, go around them or go over a team, because you can’t defend everything.

Niyi Adeolokun, Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy Try-scorers Niyi Adeolokun, Tiernan O'Halloran and Matt Healy. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“You need systems and structures to do that so you can click into it when you recognise when it’s happening on the pitch.”

Lam also expressed pleasure at seeing captain John Muldoon lift a trophy after his 275th appearance for the province.

When the former Blues coach first arrived, he appointed Gavin Duffy, Michael Swift and Muldoon as his three captains, before realising that Muldoon was the man for the job.

The Connacht boss has also been thrilled to watch the 33-year-old learning new skills and being utterly comfortable in his side’s game plan.

“As I spent time here, I quickly realised this is the one,” said Lam of Muldoon. “This is the Connacht man. This is the chosen one to lead the group.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge because it’s a new style. People talk about teaching old dogs new tricks, but that’s wrong. I’m old too and I’m learning right through.

“I’m excited by where I could be in five years time, because I know I’m a better coach than I was last year and last week, a better coach than five years ago. The players are all learning and growing.”

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