Roberts remains patient as he awaits his chance to perform
ON the field, patience is a key part of being a fly-half – and Tristan Roberts has found that the same applies away from the rugby pitch.
Roberts has had to bide his time recently as Adrian Jarvis has started Bristol's last eight games – seven of them victories.
But Roberts, 25, has been around rugby long enough to know that chances will, at some stage, present themselves – and that, when they do, they have to be grasped.
He is likely to regain the No 10 shirt for Sunday's British & Irish Cup Pool One finale with Cardiff at the Memorial Stadium, with Bristol needing a point to guarantee a place in the last eight.
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A win would be enough to secure home advantage in the quarter-finals.
"I don't think anyone is ever happy at a rugby club when they're not starting – it's a natural thing that drives you to want to get back there," said Roberts, whose last start came in the humbling defeat at Nottingham in November.
"But I think everyone realises that, and I've been around long enough to understand that you will have spells where you're not playing as often as you'd like.
"You just accept it and do what you can control – that means training hard and then, when you do get your chance, doing your best to try to take it.
"Whether that chance is down to injuries or the coaches changing the team, chances will come, and you've just got to be ready when they do.
"I know from last year, where I played the majority and then, in the play-offs I missed a big chunk of it, but then came back in for the last game.
"It can change, and it can change quickly, so I'll just train as hard as I can."
Roberts was in the right place at the right time in Bristol's last game, bundling winger Neil Walsh into touch in the final seconds of the game to deny Ulster Ravens a try. Had they scored, Ulster would have had a conversion attempt to win the game.
As it turned out, Bristol won 14-8 after a game where they had to be at their grittiest, and are now on the verge of the last eight.
"It was one of those where the boys look to earn the respect of each other, because it was more about how much you want it, rather than anything technical or tactical," said Roberts.
"It was good for that – plus a few boys who hadn't played for a while got back into it. It was certainly a big one for the squad and winning is always good for momentum. We talked about the work-rate, about never giving up, and about that team spirit – and it showed on that occasion."
But the next target for Bristol is to produce such performances and results on a regular basis. After losing to Nottingham, they won six games in a row, but then suffered a 32-17 defeat in an important Championship game at Cornish Pirates.
"Consistency is what's going to be needed if we want to achieve some of our goals this year," said Roberts. "Bouncing back from the Pirates game was important, because it showed in Belfast that we didn't have any hangover from that, as we have from previous big losses."
On the face of it, Bristol – five wins from five in the competition – should beat a Cardiff side who have lost all five matches they have played.
But, regardless of the result on Sunday, attention will quickly turn to the visit of Leeds five days later in a match Bristol must realistically win to maintain any ambitions of a top-four Championship finish.
"Leeds is certainly talked about, because there's not very long until that game," said Roberts.
"We've talked about effectively having one week with two games in, because, after Cardiff, we're only really going to get one session and a team run in before that Leeds game.
"With a fairly big squad, and not too bad an injury situation at the minute, hopefully we can cope with them both."