The Blues will make a rare venture to Whangarei for tomorrow night's clash against the Cheetahs.
While the Blues held their pre-season camp in Tutukaka and played a match against the Hurricanes in Kerikeri earlier this year, it will be the first time the Blues have played a competition game in Whangarei since 2003 and they are relishing the opportunity of turning it on for their Northland fans.
The Blues finally managed to rid themselves of their inconsistent tagline last week as they showed tremendous character to overturn a 10-nil deficit to prevail 16-13 against the Chiefs and secure their first back-to-back victories of the season.
Three wins from three against their New Zealand opposition and seven points from their overseas tour to South Africa and Perth has seen the Blues establish a healthy position on the table as they sit second in their conference and fifth overall.
With three home games and a bye in the next month, the Blues are in a commanding position to kick on and consolidate their position among the top teams in the Investec Super Rugby competition.
Their first assignment is the Cheetahs at Toll Stadium, and while they are firmly rooted to the bottom of the table with just one win to their name, that victory did come against an impressive Waratahs outfit and Lam is expecting nothing less than a torrid challenge against the South Africans.
“There’s no easy game in this competition,” Lam said.
“We know that if everyone fronts and does their job our chances of winning will be high. But if we don’t, if we have one or two players that drop below their expected performance and if we come up against a motivated Cheetahs team we’ll be in serious trouble,” he said.
“This game is a potential banana skin and we saw what they did to the Waratahs, they’ve only won one game but all their losses have been by small margins bar last week’s loss to the Reds in Brisbane heat.
“If you look at the type of rugby they’re playing, their systems are a lot different from what other South African teams do and they actually like to use the ball which will make for an exciting game so we need to be on our guard defensively and it’s important we front with the same attitude and intensity that we have in the last couple of weeks.”
Lam knows first-hand the perils of underestimating the Cheetahs, as it was their shock 36-32 loss to the Bloemfontein based side at Free State Stadium last year that effectively ended the Blues’ quest for a semi-finals berth.
“It’s fair to say that game still grates on me when we lost last year and we were expected to win but it pretty much ended our season so we certainly owe them one this time around.”
Lam has made just one injury-enforced change for tomorrow’s game, with Chris Lowrey starting at blindside flanker in place of Jerome Kaino who has failed to shake off a neck injury. Lock James King will have the opportunity to make his Blues debut as he comes onto the bench for Filo Paulo who fractured an eye socket during training this week.
The Blues have won four of their five encounters against the Cheetahs, with the one loss coming from their most recent encounter which is sure to provide plenty of motivation.