Super Rugby

Stormers taking it 'day by day' as cloud hangs over Super Rugby

John Dobson (Gallo)
John Dobson (Gallo)

The future of Super Rugby 2020 is still uncertain, but Stormers coach John Dobson believes that most sides would need three weeks to prepare for a return to the playing field. 

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As South Africa's lockdown and fight against coronavirus ramps up, whether or not the rugby season gets back on track is obviously far from a priority at this time. But for Super Rugby coaches and players, it has presented a unique situation of having to think outside the box in an effort to stay as prepared as possible should the call come. 

The one blessing from the Stormers' perspective is that the break has given the likes of Siya Kolisi, Herschel Jantjies, JD Schickerling, Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Pieter-Steph du Toit, who are all currently injured, time to recover without it hurting the team in the results column. 

Dobson says that all of those players are on track in their recoveries, adding that Kolisi would definitely be available for selection in the unlikely event of the tournament resuming in just a month's time. 

"I can't speak for other franchises, but I think you need around three weeks and that was the message from SA Rugby a few weeks ago," Dobson said in an online press conference on Wednesday.

"The soonest we could be playing is in five weeks, so the middle of May would be the earliest, but that seems very tricky. We're just living day by day."

While the safety of the players is obviously most important for all sides in Super Rugby, the Stormers have implemented a remote training program that is rich in detail and has kept the players active in their own spaces. 

"We screened them all when we left last Thursday. They've been in isolation since, but they do daily wellness reports and temperature reports with the doc," Dobson explained.

"We've tried to remove the self-discipline element as much as we can. The players have got daily requirements, through an online app, to put their conditioning results in there and their weight, their sleep, their RPEs (rates of physical exertion) and they have to post videos of their conditioning.

"We've tailored individual programmes.

"The fitness stuff is daily reporting and then they've each got their own work-ons in terms of their technical skills and the coaches are sending out drills."

While the onus is still very much on the players to do their own work, this program and the constant video communication has given the players an element of structure.

"They're under enough stress without the self-discipline," Dobson said.

"They've got technical projects like analysing our games, opposition games and world trends.

"They can rubbish us, but things like their body weight doesn't lie. We're pretty happy with how it's going."

SA Rugby is understood to be engaging in a meeting with key stakeholders on Friday to further explore the financial impacts of the coronavirus. 

If Super Rugby does return in 2020, it will almost certainly do so behind closed doors.

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