DHL Stormers Forwards Coach Rito Hlungwani and lock Salmaan Moerat say that while the big men are happy to be back in non-contact training, they are ‘hungry’ to get stuck into taking contact again once given the go-ahead.
The DHL Stormers squad is now in the third week of non-contact training in groups of five and Moerat says that just to be back at the High Performance Centre in each other’s company has been a boost for everyone.
“The lockdown gave each and every player hunger to get back, the players are all excited, we are working in smaller groups, but that is better than working on your own.
“It is great to be out on the field and throwing the ball around, I think that’s what we missed the most. Obviously there is that competitive edge that we have been missing,” he said.
Hlungwani says that the forwards have been working hard on their fitness so that they are able to hit the ground running when they get permission to begin contact training again.
“The big thing we have been working on is making sure that we have a fit pack with a good aerobic base. We have always had a good line-out, good maul and a strong scrum, but we want to make sure that our pack can operate from minute one to minute 80.
“We want our guys to have a good running base and to be able to do research on other teams and present it to their teammates, but we are hungry for contact although we are not sure when we will be able to do it again,” he said.
Moerat believes that the enforced break may have a positive impact on player fitness and welfare, although he knows that will depend on how well they prepare themselves physically from now until they return to playing.
“Everyone has had a different experience in lockdown, but I think for most players it was a good time to recover. I think in the long-run something like the lockdown could be beneficial for your career. In the short-term as well it was good, guys spent a lot of time on the watt bikes, so the squad itself is in good shape, obviously, we have areas to improve, but generally, the guys are fit.
“It is important that we create a good base before we play rugby again, I think we will need about four or five weeks of proper contact training before we start playing, that should be good for us especially considering injuries.
“It is going to be crucial for us to work really hard at this time, I know the coaches have got really good plans for our return to play.
“It is completely different to what we are used to and it could be beneficial, but it is important to prepare ourselves properly for a high level of rugby,” he said.
Hlungwani has every confidence in the DHL Stormers medical staff, who will work closely with the coaches to ensure that the players are ready to progress to contact training and match fitness once confirmation is given by SARU.
“We have got a good medical staff and strength and conditioning team and they are quite involved when we do our planning.
“They are always able to give us good advice in terms of how long it takes a player to be contact-fit,” he explained.