Bay of Plenty captain Wayne Ormond has vowed his team will front up against the British & Irish Lions on Saturday.
Despite the Lions fielding a strong side, led by captain Brian O’Driscoll and including World Cup-winning back rowers Lawrence Dallaglio and Richard Hill and Martyn Williams, the Six Nations player of the year, Ormond claims his side are ready for the challenge.
"It’s going to be a big contest in the forwards," Ormond said.
"You can’t afford to take a backward step because if you do they’ll run away with it. They’re very strong at the set-piece as it is."
However, Ormond believes the Steamers, who had great success in the Ranfurly Shield and reached the National Provincial Championship semi-finals last year, will be able to contest strongly at the breakdown.
He also expects flanker Nili Latu, one of his team-mates with the Chiefs Super 12 franchise, to lead from the front.
"He hasn’t had a lot of game time [for the Chiefs] but he’s itching to get out there and get hold of the ball and turn some ball over," Ormond told The Dominion Post.
Despite the Super 12 players joining the squad late, and coach Vern Cotter’s even later arrival because of his commitments with the Super 12-winning Crusaders franchise, the Steamers skipper felt the fact Bay of Plenty had not faced a Lions team for 22 years would be incentive enough for the players.
"We’ve got a lot of work to cover, but in saying that with the excitement we’ve got I’m sure the boys will keep going and nail their jobs," Ormond said.
"We’ve been waiting for this game for a long time so it’s pretty easy and for the guys who have been playing club rugby it’s up to us [Super 12 players] to bring them up to that level."
Cotter is due to announce his team on Wednesday for the tour opener which is expected to be played in front of a 35,000-strong crowd at the Rotorua International Stadium.