Early to bed for Bristol Rugby players as they prepare for a noon start at Cornish Pirates
BRISTOL'S players will be making key adjustments over the coming two evenings, so they are as close to peak condition as possible by 12pm on Monday.
The early kick-off time at the Mennaye Field – one of the more unfortunate offshoots of the professional game – will mean a slightly different approach for Liam Middleton and his players in the next 48 hours.
But the head coach believes the lunchtime kick-off in the first leg of his side's Championship semi-final against Cornish Pirates will have a mere "half a per cent" impact on proceedings.
"We've addressed it, and I wouldn't say it's an issue, but it's something you have to be mindful of, because of the physiological aspects," he said.
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"If you have a 3pm kick-off or a 7pm kick-off, you start to prepare for the game around midday. When you wake up in the morning, your body has time to get into the day.
"With a 12pm kick-off, you've essentially got to get up and start preparing for the game immediately. So we've got to look at getting enough sleep and at how early you've got to get up in order to get the full preparation.
"Lunchtime is a tricky time in terms of kick-off, because you've had breakfast but you're expecting to have lunch around that time.
"It's something we've addressed from a nutritional, sleep and physiological preparation perspective.
"I don't think it will be an issue for us but it's something to be mindful of – it's half a per cent."
The match is being shown live on Sky Sports, hence the earlier than usual kick-off, giving the Pirates and Bristol players a rare opportunity to be seen by a national audience.
And Bristol skipper Iain Grieve believes the 12.05pm start is an obstacle that can be easily addressed by a couple of minor tweaks to his team's preparation.
"It is a strange kick-off time and one we are not used to, but I don't think it changes too much from our perspective," he said.
"We will go to bed a bit earlier, get up a bit earlier and start preparing a bit earlier.
"You almost need to bring everything forward by three hours – but I don't think it will affect us too much.
"It's a professional game and this is just one of the things you have to deal with.
"But we're feeling good and we'll be ready by Monday lunchtime."
By the time Monday comes around, Bristol will not have played in 16 days since their emphatic 39-10 win over Doncaster.
But Grieve is confident his team will not have lost any of the momentum they built up with that victory and their crucial 26-20 win at London Welsh in their previous match.
"In terms of momentum, even with having a week without a game, I don't think we've necessarily dropped off at all," said Grieve.
"We had a really good result at London Welsh and the Doncaster performance added to the momentum. Even though we didn't play last weekend, everyone has been looking sharp in training and now it's all about making sure we peak at the right time.
"We are trying to look at this as if it was any other game, even though it obviously carries the semi-final tag. It will be a bit more hyped than usual, but we're just focusing on doing what we've been doing all season."