THE feeling that 26 hours of travel was tough and draining didn’t last long when getting off a plane in the South African heat and seeing pictures of snow in Ystrad Mynach from some of the squad back home.

The double-header against the Kings and Cheetahs provides a nice break in a fresh environment, but this is no holiday and we are all well aware of the job that we have to do.

The travel since the South African sides have joined the Guinness PRO14 does have its challenges, and we only do it once a season unlike them.

The time difference means there is no jet lag but two flights with a combined time of 15 hours in a chair does make your back and hamstrings slightly stiff. It’s different to hopping on a plane to Dublin, Belfast or Glasgow.

That’s the first consideration when you land and a sea swim does help to get some of the fatigue and swelling out of the legs.

The next thing was to get the blood pumping with some light games and finalising some of the fine detail in the set piece. It was then on to intense sessions on the playing fields of Nelson Mandela University.

Using the local gym is the only other way to blow away the cobwebs and maintain strength, something that is helped by a nice steak cooked on a South African braai.

Results have meant that team morale hasn’t been the highest but the mood is lifted by a bit of sun and a fresh environment away from Ystrad Mynach.

The double-header presents a good chance to build close bonds as we plan for a better campaign in 2019/20.

The boys are keen to enjoy playing some rugby and it will no doubt be a fast tempo against the Kings, who are renowned for their ability to attack from anywhere.

It will be a fast-flowing game and we have to control the pace. That is something that we didn’t do last year and we paid the price with a heavy loss in Port Elizabeth.

That didn’t go to plan and the game ran away from us after we had led 13-7 right at the end of the first half, but we beat the Kings in Newport at the start of the season so that gives us confidence.

The Kings are a dangerous side and play an attacking style of rugby that really suits a familiar face – it has been good to see an old teammate in Sarel Pretorius, who seems to be loving life on the coast.

He’s a good bloke but hopefully we won’t give him reason to smile on Sunday! A win - and ending that away losing streak - would set us up perfectly for the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

I’ve missed out on tomorrow as I continue my comeback from a calf issue but hopefully I will force my way into a winning squad for next Saturday’s fixture.