Lam predicts big things for Bealham

Rodney Ah You's decision to move to Ulster is a pat on the back for Connacht having made him a better player.

Connacht coach Pat Lam says while disappointed with Ah You's decision to leave, the offer from Ulster was on the back of the work Connacht had done.

"I see that as a real positive. I have said to all the players that I sleep at night if they can leave as better players, and I know for sure when I arrived here there were no offers for Rodney, none at all," says Lam. "The fact that he got a pretty good offer from Ulster is on the back of the work Connacht has done."

Ah You was brought to Ireland in 2010 from Canterbury in New Zealand where he had played underage for his home country, but after qualifying through residency to play for Ireland, he was brought into Joe Schmidt's squad, making his test debut against Argentina in 2014.

"I think we got the most out of Rodney. If a player comes through, certainly when I am coaching, I want them to become better rugby players and better people. Then, in the professional game, players will decide where they want to go, and it's not just rugby when they are married and have children, and they make decisions based on that.

"We are disappointed that Rodney made the decision to leave, but for me the whole focus is on those who want to be here."

Lam is predicting big things now from Finlay Bealham, the Australia-born prop who can play both sides of the scrum.

"Finlay has all the values and attributes we are looking for - his consistency, his work rate, his durability. He is the only one to have played all 17 games, he went from 109kg to 121kgs, he is rewarded with Emerging Ireland, can play both sides, and he's a young Irish player coming through. So I am pretty excited by Finlay, and then you have young Conan O'Donnell who can play both tighthead and loosehead, as well, with Nathan. For me the real focus, though disappointed to lose Rodney, is I am really excited by the guys who are here and want to be here.

"The main thing for me is players will make their own decisions, and Connacht is not about any individual player. It's about the collective and those who want to play for Connacht, and I am really pleased with those coming through."

Although Robbie Henshaw has yet to announce whether he will remain with his home province or head to Leinster, Lam says it's about Connacht winning rugby.

"The most important thing supporters want is to see Connacht winning. Players have come and players have gone, but at the end of the day what supporters want is Connacht to be successful as a team on the field, and that is the priority."



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