THREE gruelling Friday trips to west Wales set Gloucester in motion for an assault on their wretched away form.
The Cherry and Whites coaching staff purposely designed a nasty set of circumstances for the Kingsholm squad on their trio of pre-season trips to Pembrey County Park.
Strength and conditioning boss Paddy Anson believes building punishing training schedules in between the return bus trip set the right mindset for away travel, right from the off.
Former Royal Marine Anson revealed to Tuesday night’s fans forum at Kingsholm that sequence of challenges has definitely helped Gloucester get a handle on their away performances.
Gloucester broke new ground in Kingsholm’s 1873 on Tuesday, streaming the fans forum live online.
Executive chairman Ryan Walkinshaw was able to watch on from Australia, while supporters from any location could tweet in questions for the panel of coaches Nigel Davies, Carl Hogg and Anson.
Early-season Premiership wins at London Irish and London Welsh, coupled with a gritty European victory at Mont de Marsan, have boosted the Cherry and Whites from the away-day malaise of recent years.
Anson explained: “On all three of those days the sessions down there were designed to be tough, and also every time the weather was pretty nasty too.
“I think that helped set the standard for what the players expect to find when they are travelling.”
Resilience has been the watchword for Gloucester’s early-season success, as the Cherry and Whites have climbed to second in the Premiership table.
Forwards coach Carl Hogg believes Gloucester’s revamped gameplan has helped take the Kingsholm men beyond a high-risk attack-or-bust strategy.
Hogg said: “This year we’ve been able to build a great ability to retain the ball.
“We used to have almost a Kevin Keegan mentality, to take that from his days at Newcastle United in a football capacity, where if they score three we would back ourselves to score four.
“When it worked it was fantastic and we were able to score some fantastic tries and play some startling rugby.
“But too often it broke.
“Now we’ve been able to build in an approach that allows us to keep the ball for longer periods, build pressure on the opposition and then hopefully take advantage of that.”