Lam: Every game from here to end of season a 'cup final'
Connacht coach Pat Lam has thrown down the gauntlet to his men and said that every game from here to the end of the season is now a cup final.
Connacht's main aim is to finish in the top six of the league for the first time, while they are also through to the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup against Gloucester.
Lam has made it clear that finishing in the top half of the Pro12 - and qualifying for the Champions Cup off their own bat for the first time - is the top priority.
Connacht are currently sixth on 33 points but with Scarlets just five points behind them in eighth place, Lam said every game from here is going to be vital, starting with the trip to Llanelli on Sunday.
"The game against Scarlets is huge. We know they are breathing right behind us. For us everyone has got top-six aspirations with the way the format has changed and that is brilliant for the competition.
"But we have been down there before and we know that at this stage that all are fighting and they are doing the extra. We have challenged our group that we take it to another level as well and not be satisfied with where we are.
"Although we are in a good place it can all change over the next four weeks. We are very determined to get down there and get the right outcome."
Connacht have nine league games left, five of them away from home, and Lam said each and every one of them will be decisive.
"They are definitely all cup finals. Every game right through, everyone is hungry for those four points and it has such a big impact. With the Six Nations and squads being affected by that, it is vital that we get as many points as we can."
Sunday's 12.45pm kick-off presents its own logistical challenges but Lam said everything is about preparing properly.
"We have got three Sunday games in a row now, and we have got to travel to Wales for our next three away games. When you have got fair warning it is all part of the planning. We have adjusted training this week to train more around that midday, 1pm mark so the boys get a chance to prepare accordingly. The big thing is if you do your preparation then it shouldn't be an issue," added the Connacht coach.