Jarrad Hoeata acknowledges Cardiff Blues face a stern challenge this weekend against a Connacht Rugby side that has earned the respect of everyone in the Guinness PRO12.
Lock Hoeata and his team-mates head to Galway for the second part of a run of four successive league games in Ireland on Saturday afternoon.
Cardiff Blues are looking for a return to winning ways after a narrow away defeat to Leinster Rugby last time out.
But former New Zealand international second row Hoeata knows Connacht will be a difficult test after the way they have progressed under coach Pat Lam in recent years.
“We’ve been able to get some good work in ahead of Connacht. It’s a tough period for us away to the Irish sides but a good challenge too to see where we are at,” he said.
“It’s only my second season here, but everyone knows it is tough to go over to Ireland and get results.
“Connacht have come on a lot and are only missing a few players to the World Cup so they are looking strong as a squad.
“They were previously seen as the fourth Irish province but nobody does that now. We will show them plenty of respect and know what we are coming up against.
“They only lost by a point or two to Glasgow and had a good result against Dragons. It’s going to be tough.”
Hoeata believes Cardiff Blues must take the positives from the opening weeks of the new season and pinpointed a new defensive resolve as a real cause for optimism.
He added: “We are all enjoying working with Danny (Wilson), Johnsey (Paul John) and Steady (Graham Steadman). They have stripped it right back and we have made some good steps in the right direction.
“Steady has come in and put in systems and it’s a work in progress but going well defensively.
“Every good team needs a big defence. Coming from New Zealand I know that there is no use scoring four tries if you are always going to concede four or five.
“Our defence in the first two games has been good. We were all disappointed last season with the way we performed in that department. We have worked hard on it.
“We need to build a reputation that we are known for our defence and the attack, that Cardiff Blues has always been known for, will come too.”