The DHL Stormers coaching staff have used the time at home in lockdown to do some research and learn from other sporting codes to grow as coaches over this period.
The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant nationwide lockdown has put everyone across the world in a challenging position, but the DHL Stormers coaches are committed to using the time at home constructively to ensure they emerge as better coaches, ready to take the team to new heights.
While they are in constant contact with the players, overseeing their home training programmes and studying various trends in world rugby, the coaches are also intent on developing themselves positively over this time.
DHL Stormers Forward Coach Rito Hlungwani explained that the coaching staff touch base regularly on the different insights they have gained, so that they are all able to continue improving themselves and thereby challenging the players to raise their standards.
“Before we left, we wrote down a few things that we could do to further improve ourselves as coaches during the lockdown.
“Dawie [Snyman] just sent some interesting information on Aussie Rules, so he is looking at a different code to find an edge. I am looking at the NBA, there are a few things that I have picked up there. Dobbo is well-read and he is reading a little bit more now.
“So that is probably the way we are keeping ourselves motivated in terms of learning from other coaches and other codes, so that when we come back we come back better as well. That is one thing that I think we have done well and that is the main motivation now, to come back better. Learn, read, watch as many videos as you can, join as many webcasts as you can and then we discuss it once a week amongst ourselves,” he said.
Hlungwani said that the unique challenges that the lockdown has presented have forced the players and coaches to adapt in a way that has had a positive impact on the squad as a whole.
“We are in constant communication with the players, just to gauge where they are, how we can help. It is a challenging time and we are working hard to make sure that we are very supportive to all the players and the staff.
“The nice thing about being at the DHL Stormers right now is that in terms of rugby playing ability and experience, we have all of that. But now we are getting tested in terms of our interpersonal skills. Lending an ear of support and giving a little bit of advice. It is a challenging time, but that is something that we as coaches recognise and we are working hard to make sure that we contribute to the positivity of the group morale and players individually,” he said.
While Hlungwani believes in empowering the players, he has also learned a great deal in his first season of Vodacom Super Rugby as a coach, even though it has been cut short.
“For me this is my first Vodacom super Rugby campaign, I had done a lot of research but it was sort of going into the unknown. Initially I used the players’ experience to get an upper hand and that is something I would like to continue going forward because I believe the intellectual capital in that pack is pretty amazing.
“There are one or two things that I would like to improve in terms of the general pack, which is obviously done by consulting with other coaches and the players themselves. Now it is actually a good time for the players to give me more feedback and for me to give them feedback,” he said.
The DHL Stormers Forwards Coach is confident that the hard work that his charges have been putting in on their individual skills in lockdown will pay off once they are able to train as a group once again.
“We have got our line-out system and at this stage what we have done is separated the parts of the system and focused on improving them individually. As soon as we come back we will fine-tune their interactions, the hookers will come back better throwers, the jumpers will come back a little more explosive and so will the supporters.
“On that side of things I am pretty happy with how it is going, but the challenge which we should be able to sort out pretty quickly, is the interaction of each position, the timing and all the nitty gritty that you want in the line-outs,” he said.
Although it is not clear at this stage when the team will be able to resume training together, Hlungwani said that the DHL Stormers are doing everything they can to be ready to hit the ground running, within the relevant rules and regulations.
“If and when we do return, we will have everything ready at the HPC, so as soon as we are given a directive we will make sure that we get out of the blocks quickly and have the HPC ready in terms of meeting the regulations that government and SA Rugby might require,” he added.