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Wales can be the best rugby team in the world, says Bristol Bears’ Pat Lam

Pat Lam is contracted at Bristol Bears until 2023 after signing a new deal in 2019

Pat Lam is contracted at Bristol Bears until 2023 after signing a new deal in 2019

Former Samoa captain Pat Lam believes Wales should aim to be the best rugby team in the world.

Bristol Bears director of rugby Lam, 51, says Wales is similar to New Zealand in that it produces “natural” players.

He feels the reigning Six Nations champions have the potential to win the World Cup under Wayne Pivac.

“Wales should have a genuine goal of being number one in the world,” Lam told GoBonus Wales’ Scrum V podcast.

Lam says he has “honest respect” for the work done by Warren Gatland during his 12-year spell as Wales coach.

The New Zealander’s tenure included a brief stint as the world’s number one team last year, the first time Wales had done so since World Rugby introduced rankings.

Gatland’s team reached the semi-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but Lam argues Wales could win the trophy for the first time “if they play the right game”.

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“That’s why there’s a lot of hope,” he added.

“I think Wayne Pivac and the style he wants to do – he’s got to make sure he’s got the right staff and stuff, but he eventually could send Wales into another level given the right time.

“Wales should have a genuine goal of being number one in the world.

“That starts with mindset and belief. But then you have got to start talking that way, you have got to start training and behaving that way, and that increases the chances.”

Lam joined Bristol Bears in 2017 after four years coaching Connacht, winning the Pro12 for the only time in the province’s history in 2016.

He was previously in charge of Auckland Blues and New Zealand Super Rugby side Blues, while he has worked at international level with Samoa and as Scotland’s assistant coach.

Wales were beaten by South Africa in the 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final

Lam, whose forwards coach at Bristol is ex-Wales international Jonathan Thomas, says he would like to take charge of Wales at some point because of the talent they have.

Though he played 34 times for Samoa, former number eight Lam was born and raised in New Zealand and made one non-Test match appearance for the All Blacks.

“I consider New Zealand rugby players pretty natural – they can play the game,” said Lam.

“I say the same with the Welsh. With Jonathan Thomas I am always talking about it – I am just amazed at the ability of Welsh rugby players.

“I am not advertising or trying to get a job or anything, but I would love to coach the Welsh rugby team.”

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