CAPE TOWN – Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani is confident the Stormers will be able to gain enough “contact fitness” before the domestic competition kicks off.
Last week, SA Rugby announced that the Bulls, Stormers, Lions, Sharks, Cheetahs, Griquas and Pumas could return to contact training this week following the completion of Covid-19 tests.
Minimal positives tests across four of the franchises – the Lions, Bulls, Stormers and Bulls – were reported, which is a positive outcome with a domestic competition set to kick-off next month.
The Stormers’ assistant coach confirmed that their group returned only one positive test for Covid-19 and that they are easing into contact training in preparation for action.
“On Monday our doctor tested over 100 staff and players and we only had one positive test, which is a brilliant result considering that everyone goes home and visits families, and this shows that everybody has reduced their social circles. That positive case is self-isolating,” Hlungwani said.
“We are running quite a strict environment and we’re making sure that everyone follows the structures we’ve put in place.”
Hlungwani expressed how excited everyone in the group was to be back to training as a team after five weeks of non-contact training during which players trained in groups of five.
“Everyone is excited. We’ve all been looking forward to team training, so it’s been good,” he said.
“The Springboks are demanding a lot from each other in terms of training and they also give the youngsters the power to call them out if they feel that the senior guys aren’t giving their all at training.
“They are allowed to be vocal, Siya (Kolisi) made it clear that the young guys aren’t here to make up the numbers, so everybody gives their opinion and everybody contributes.
— Siya Kolisi (@SiyaKolisi_Bear) August 27, 2020
“We might not be exactly where we want to be in terms of full contact, you need to build it up and that’s the key thing, but we’re taking it one week at a time until we feel that the guys’ bodies are ready to go full.”
He added they’re easing into full-on contact.
“Ideally we would want a four-week period to build up contact conditioning, but in this case we will take three weeks.
“We’ve been working hard on other aspects, like power endurance, so I feel we will be able to put the contact conditioning together in three weeks, we’ll be fine.
“We just want to play now.”
When asked whether they’ll be running out as the Stormers or Western Province in October, Hlungwani said: “The guys haven’t played in months, so I think whatever competition is put in front of them, they’ll be excited about it, whether it’s the Currie Cup or Super Rugby.”