DHL Stormers Forwards Coach Rito Hlungwani believes in measuring as much as possible in training in order to ensure that the team keeps improving and raising standards as they build towards a return to rugby.
A qualified Quantity Surveyor, Hlungwani lives by the phrase ‘if you can measure it, you can improve it’ which is something he has been trying to implement as the DHL Stormers take the next step in their preparations with a return to contact training this week.
While nobody is happier to be back in contact training than the DHL Stormers Forwards Coach, he also knows that this is something else that should be carefully measured, to avoid any potential casualties.
“There is excitement, but everyone understands that we must put in a certain amount of work to be able to produce a high level of rugby when we start playing.
“The key thing is that, especially with contact training, there has to be a build-up process.
“We have to build it up one day and one week at a time until the guys’ bodies are ready to go full-out,” he explained.
Hlungwani said that after such a long time studying the game, he is looking forward to seeing a gradual improvement in standards from his forwards on the training pitch as the coming weeks unfold.
“One thing that stands out is that the small details can never be neglected. All the best coaches around the world will tell you that you have got to look after the small details at training every day.
“So in training every single little thing is measured and we try to improve every detail, because we believe that minute detail is going to look after us during games.
“We are measuring everything, because if you can measure it you can improve it,” he said.
The DHL Stormers Forwards Coach has been pleased with the way the senior players are challenging the younger players in the squad to hold them accountable in training.
“Something that makes our environment unique is that the senior players demand a lot from each other, in terms of what they produce at training.
“They also give the youngsters the power to call them out if the youngsters feel they are not producing quality training.
“It is good that the older boys give the younger players the power to be vocal, ask questions and point out things that need to be done better.
“It is a two-way system, the senior players help the younger boys, but the younger boys are also in a position to question things. So it is a very good learning environment that we have,” he said.
Hlungwani said that captain Siya Kolisi and his fellow senior players have been key in driving this environment.
“Siya was quite open with the younger guys, telling them that they are not here to make up numbers, but they are here to contribute. So he made it clear that he expects them to have the confidence to contribute and add any valuable info that they might have.
“It is a beautiful learning environment we have currently, with everyone learning from each other.
“You get a 100 cap DHL Stormers player like Frans [Malherbe] assisting Sazi Sandi, who still has to get a cap. The conversation that they are having, I learn a lot myself just from listening to the two of them communicate.
“Sazi asks a lot of questions, Frans will tell him how it feels and ask some questions of his own, it’s brilliant,” he added.
Before the team could return to contact training this week there were mandatory COVID-19 tests and Hlungwani says the fact that there was just one positive result was extremely heartening for the squad, showing that the effort put into the various protocols in place has paid off.
“We have got some very good doctors working with us and they understand the magnitude of this pandemic, which is why we are running quite a strict environment in terms of making sure everyone complies with all of the steps and the rules that have been put in place.
“The Doc tested over 100 players and staff and we have had one positive case, which from our point of view is quite a brilliant result. It just shows us that our boys and the staff have taken this seriously and reduced their social circles.
“The person with the positive result has been pulled out from the group and are currently in quarantine. So that is how the system will run, if we get a positive case the person will be isolated for a period of time,” he said.