Lam, who has coached with the Blues in the Super 15 and worked with Scotland and Samoa, believes Clarke's signing is a statement of intent for a side who finished eighth last year.
Yet the 44-year-old former Samoa No.8 admits any success will still be built on hard-work and the values instilled by Elwood
"At the end of the day you've got a group of guys who just want to get better by working hard," he said.
"Everyone knows that we don't have the resources, the budget compared to some of our competitors, and that's fine we understand that.
"But what we do have is a committed group of guys who want to take Connacht rugby forward and are working day-to-day to get there.
"We have a clear vision of where we want to be and what we want to do and now it's focussing on doing all the work to get there. Rugby is a team game and we're going to rely on the whole team."
One change Lam has made is to appoint three club captains for the coming season with Gavin Duffy, John Muldoon and Michael Swift taking on the responsibility.
Lam is no stranger to the role of the underdog having represented Samoa during his playing days and admits he was captivated by Connacht's own proud history.
"Probably the biggest thing was the challenge and the history," added Lam, when asked about his motivation for joining.
"Ten years ago they were almost gone. To see them fight and get that decision overruled and Eric Elwood doing it too you have a lot of admiration for. It was massive.
"That sort of fight that you saw there, you see come through against the odds. If you got that, you can't coach that, that's there.
"We're certainly David against Goliath in a lot of situations looking at what some of these other teams have. Not in envy, but you just see that's what they are and that's what we are.
"The dogged determination that we're going to need to come together as a team to knock these guys off on a consistent basis is a great challenge and that's what attracted me."