Connacht operating on Russia time for daunting trip
Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30
Connacht coach Pat Lam is hopeful that a detailed plan, which has been fine-tuned in recent weeks, will stand to them as they head on their historic trip to Siberia for the first European rugby game to take place in Russia.
Lam is bringing a 24-man squad to Krasnoyarsk for Saturday's European Challenge Cup encounter with Enisei-STM.
A plan to deal with the logistics of travelling 5,800km from their Galway base in the west of Ireland to Siberia kicked in just after they went top of the Pro12 with a sixth win from seven in the current campaign when they defeated Treviso 33-19 at the Sportsground on Friday night.
Connacht assembled for training at 6am on Monday morning at the Sportsground and are operating on Russian time all week in a bid to counter the seven-hour time difference.
The game on Saturday will kick off at 3.0pm local time in Krasnoyarsk, which is 8.0am GMT, and Lam said that they have made every effort to deal with the challenges of the trip.
"We know that it's an historical occasion. We understand there is going to be a massive crowd so there is no doubt they will be up for it," said Lam.
"But I think the big thing for us is to understand who we are, what we are about, and we obviously play week in week out at a level higher than they do.
"So the only thing we can control is our performance and it has been the focus for this whole build up."
He said that the early-morning training sessions were a big help, even if they took place in heavy west of Ireland rain.
"A lot of work has gone into preparation and it is a big mental challenge as well. But we are all looking forward to it.
"The Russia trip is a massive unknown. I've looked at the temperatures and when we arrive out there, the temperature never goes above zero. It's a big challenge but we have prepared well for it," added Lam.
His squad departed Shannon Airport on an overnight charter flight, stopping off for refuelling in Moscow before continuing for almost another five hours to Krasnoyarsk.
They are due in their hotel in Ktrasnoyarsk around noon on Wednesday and will train in the afternoon as the countdown continues to the historic game on Saturday.
Connacht squad - Backs: D Leader, N Adeolokun, B Aki, P Robb, R Parata, C Ronaldson, J Carty, AJ MacGinty, I Porter, C Blade. Forwards: J Harris-Wright, D Heffernan, S Delahunt, C O'Donnell, R Loughney, D Buckley, F Bealham, A Muldowney, D Qualter, U Dillane, J Connolly, S O'Brien, G Naoupu, J Muldoon.
Unavailable: R Ah You, F Carr, J Cooney, M Healy, R Henshaw, K Marmion, B Marshall, T McCartney, D McSharry, T O'Halloran, D Poolman, Q Roux, N White.